The Judge. The highly anticipated film starring acting power houses Robert Duval and Robert Downey Jr. has finally hit screens across the nation and one thing is for certain, it’s Oscar season. After last week’s Gone Girl was released and now The Judge it is clear the Oscar bait films are out in full force. And if I were one of the old guys in the committee, this one would be in the running. Among Duval and RDJ the film stars Vera Farminga, Vincent D’Onofrio, Jeremy Strong, Billy Bob Thornton, Leighton Meeston, and Dax Shepard, and is directed by David Dobkin.
The Judge tells the tale of high powered Chicago defense attorney Henry “Hank” Palmer, who while in the midst of a trial, is called back to his small town home after the passing of his Mother. He returns for the funeral and to his Estranged family that include his learning disabled brother Dale(Strong), his older brother who seems to bare a small grudge toward him Glen(D’Onofrio),and his father(Duval) who he hates, and who hates him. On his way back out of town he is pulled back into a trial that has father looking at murder charges, against a man that he put away years ago. He must now find his father’s innocence while going up against a Prosecutor named Dwight Dickham (Thornton) who is determined to get the Judge put away for life.
In a change of pace I am going to start with the negatives seeing how there are so few of them. The trailers will have you believe that this is a high powered court drama, but that’s not exactly the case. The film is a lot more of a character picture then it is a crime drama. Though there are a lot of scenes that take place in the court, more often than not you find yourself dealing with this families inner workings. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, just a little departure from what it looked like from a marketing perspective. As well there is a small story line involving an ex-girlfriend of Hank Palmer (RDJ) that had the entire thread been taken out, you wouldn’t be missing anything. Plus the small twist that comes of the ex-love storyline is not cleared up or addressed and leaves you kind of confused. As well, Dax Shepard’s character, a lawyer originally hired by Judge Palmer to defend him, also didn’t really need to be in the film, or at least as much as he was, which still isn’t even that much.
Sounds like nitpicking? Well it kind of is. Those are really the only problems in the film. The story is riveting, and pulls at your heart strings over and over again. I did not cry, but there were a few times that I definitely teared up. It almost got me. The scenes are powerful, especially the ones that involve just RDJ and Duval. Not only is Duval one the greatest actors of all time, but this film, these scenes, remind you that RDJ is a world class actor too. He’s not just Tony Stark. I can say, that baring a few more performances, I can honestly see both of these guys getting the Oscar nod. The entire film is casted well, none of these actors took me out of the film, nor did anything from the script. The dialog was fresh and crisp, the direction was up to par. It was just a well put together film. One I truly enjoyed.
I’m going high on my Jeebus score with this one. No bonus, but still ties Gone Girls 5.4, multiple viewings required. So how about you? Have you, or do you plan on seeing The Judge? And what are your favorite performances from RDJ other than Iron Man?