The Judge

2014-12-31 10:25
 
What's it about:

Big city lawyer Hank Palmer returns to his childhood home where his estranged father, the town’s judge, is suspected of murder. He sets out to discover the truth, and along the way reconnects with the family he walked away from years before.

What we thought:

The Judge would be one of those films that come up late night on TV and the insomniac in you would stick around to watch the whole film. A stellar cast with great performances, the film is let down by a plot that is not exciting and stretches out every scene into infinity, finally concluding in a most unspectacular fashion. You are left with the sense that the film should have ended an hour ago.

A typical lawyer with the morality compass of a pirate (Robert Downey Jr.) goes back to his hometown and an estranged father for his mother’s funeral (very original). His father, a no-nonsense judge (Robert Duvall), gets himself accused of murder in a hit and run. His son is desperate to defend him, and in the process they start bonding again while airing out pent-up grudges.

If not for the amazing cast, this film would have slunk into obscurity of late night TV. It has raked in accolades for the actors and the music score (Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild nominations for Duvall), but the script will never make it into the hall of fame. A scene would go on forever, while the audience wonders why this scene is important at all, and with so many side characters no room was left to develop them. Their stories and relevance were thrust upon you and before it can sink in it has already moved on to the next phase in the plot.

The actors had to convert a very boring script into something memorable, and Duvall gave a performance that is etched into your brain. It’s not easy to play a tough man that refuses to show weakness, and then shows his heart and soul to his son without it looking cheesy.

Downey was great and all, and gave the much needed comedic relief here and there, but it still seemed like he played a more serious version of his famous arrogant I-am-smarter-than-you persona, and it wasn’t really a challenge for him.

Another great performance was given by the smallest of the cast, Emma Tremblay (Elysium, The Giver), who plays the amoral lawyer’s daughter. She also adds spark to script and held her own with veterans Duvall and Downey. Looking forward to her future endeavours.

Although a director is always important in getting the most of his cast, it does feel like David Dobkin (Friends with Benefits, Wedding Crashers, Fred Claus) did not have much input in their performances. Downey should have had a more firm hand in trying to curb his go-to acting persona and Duvall just relied on his vast experience to make the Judge come to life. Even the side characters played by Vincent D’Onofrio, Vera Farmiga and Billy Bob Thornton did the best with what they had, and being such experienced actors managed to do it well.

Not a film for the young crowd, The Judge is a slow court drama and is more suited to fans of the actors than anyone actually interested in the story of reconciliation between father and son. Rather wait for it to come on the television than spend expensive movie tickets on it.

Stefano 2015/01/01 9:46 AM
I am so happy that movies are made for people and not only 1 person. We, as a family that loves movies, watched this excellent film and really enjoyed it. Yes it was a bit slow at some times and the plot was not that original, but watching these actors pour their hearts and soul, specially Mr Duval, into the movie made for a lovely evening spent. Not the best of the year and not one we will watch a few times, but still 2 hours well spent.
Ian 2015/01/01 9:55 AM
This sounds like the sort of movie I would spend expensive movie tickets on, Mr Duvall can simply do no wrong, I look forward to this and I will be hoping for an Oscar nod, With that said, the so called young crowd trash that Hollywood seems to be churning up more often than not is what I wont spend money on. What exactly was the writer of this article expecting, A ha ha so funny mindless piece of trash from Mr Duvall, I think not. You should try 9 hours of class Nordic Noir if you want real quality
Hugo 2015/01/01 10:27 AM
So sick and tired of so-called movie critics trying to stamp their authority on indie movies. Stick to Hobbits and Thumbelina please and allow serious movie-goers to form their own opinion on films made for thinking grown-ups.
Brad 2015/01/01 10:58 AM
Excellent movie, not sure what the critics problem is.
Lindy 2015/01/01 11:16 AM
A brilliant movie ...... well worth watching.
Zato van Heerden 2015/01/01 6:14 PM
Absolutely brilliant movie. Script is like a superbly written novel. This review is just plain bad and wrong
Zato van Heerden 2015/01/01 6:14 PM
Absolutely brilliant movie. Script is like a superbly written novel. This review is just plain bad and wrong
Zato van Heerden 2015/01/01 6:14 PM
Absolutely brilliant movie. Script is like a superbly written novel. This review is just plain bad and wrong
Zato van Heerden 2015/01/01 6:14 PM
Absolutely brilliant movie. Script is like a superbly written novel. This review is just plain bad and wrong
Zato van Heerden 2015/01/01 6:14 PM
Absolutely brilliant movie. Script is like a superbly written novel. This review is just plain bad and wrong
Zato van Heerden 2015/01/01 6:14 PM
Absolutely brilliant movie. Script is like a superbly written novel. This review is just plain bad and wrong
Kim 2015/01/01 7:37 PM
A great movie. Totally disagree with critic but then.. Different strokes
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