Thursday, November 6, 2014


By D.E.Levine

Oscar winner Robert Duvall takes a supporting role as the judge that the film is named for in this story of a dysfunctional family and the problems they face personally and professionally.

Judge Joseph Palmer (Robert Duvall) is a moral pillar of the community who has sat on the bench for a very long time.  He heartily disapproves of his black sheep son Hank Palmer (Robert Downey Jr.), an unscrupulous Chicago defense attorney whose practice is based on getting white collar criminals off.

Preparing to divorce his wife and sue for custody of his seven-year old daughter Lauren (Emma Treblay), Hank reluctantly heads back to Carlinville, Indianna when his mother dies.

Tension is high from the time Hank arrives home and continues as we meet other members of his family like older brother Glen (Vincent D'Onofrio) and younger brother Dale (Jeremy Strong).

As Hank prepares to leave Carlinville for good, the Judge gets arrested and charged with a hit-and-run murder.  Hank stays to defend his father and he and the Judge clash over the proper way to handle the defense.

It turns out the Judge is seriously ill and with a limited life expectancy the outcome of the case can have a significant impact on his and other family members' lives.

The film is not only a study in "good versus evil" but in the relationship between father and son, with all its problems and the resolutions finally reached.

Downey, who has been an action hero in his last few films, give a realistic performance as the glib successful lawyer.  While Duvall, now 83 years old, gives a deeper and more convincing performance than he has in years.

Well worth seeing, but not a feel good movie, The Judge is well worth seeing.