Director: David Dobkin
Starring: Robert Downey Jr, Robert Duvall, Vera Farmiga, Billy Bob Thornton, Vincent D’Onofrio, Jeremy Strong
Age Rating: 15
Running Time: 141 minutes
Robert Downey Jr. (RDJ), took some time out of playing the “genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist” that is Iron-Man, in order to showcase his ability in the genre of drama. RDJ plays alongside one of the greats, Robert Duvall, in this deep and emotional tale of Hank Palmer (RDJ), a successful defensive attorney in Chicago, returning to his home in Indiana to defend his troubled father and ex-judge of the town Joseph Palmer from murder claims against one of the many low-lives ‘The Judge’ once let off with a minimal sentence.
From the moment he returns home to attend his mother’s funeral, you witness the complexity of his family. The brittle bond between Hank and his father is painful to watch at first, which can only be emphasised by his elder Brother Glen’s (Vincent D’Onofrio) handling of the two, signalling that there is clearly a lot of deep family history to unravel throughout this film. Well, that it does! This film is full of drama, despair and complications. Hank Palmer has worked his way to the top in Chicago, paying for a huge house and incredible cars, a model wife and a beautiful daughter. However, from the shaky start with his wife in the film, leaving his daughter at home with his wife as he leaves for his mother’s funeral, and the levels of tension between the three brothers and their father, it’s clear it has not all gone right for Hank.
As the film progresses, RDJ goes from playing the successful, sarcastic and snide person we’re used to seeing in the majority of his films, to a heartbroken, confused and lonely individual, showcasing his range in acting and also creating a character which the viewer cannot help but sympathise as well as empathise with.
However, this film is not just recommended for the brilliance of Downey Jr., but also the power of Duvall in bringing this distraught, ill, troubled and proud Judge Palmer to the screen. He presents to the viewer what any man fears his father becoming, a dejected and confused old man who you’ll do well to not shed a tear for at some point throughout the story.
Overall, THE JUDGE is a remarkably well-acted, intense and emotional piece of cinema which emphasises the brilliance of two greats from completely different eras, as well as a solid supporting cast. Definitely worth a watch this year!
Recommendation: If you’re a Robert Downey Jr. or Duvall fan, love your dramas or simply a well put together film then the DVD/Blu-Ray is worth a buy! Otherwise, it at least deserves a rent!