The Judge (15)

Directed by David Dobkin
Starring Robert Downey Jr, Robert Duvall, Vera Farmiga

Robert Downey Jr. Has become so associated with Tony Stark/ Iron Man, so it's great to see him leave the SFX behind and team up with crusty Robert Duvall for an engrossing family drama disguised as a legal thriller. Downey is the estranged son of small town judge Duvall, who returns home for his mother's funeral, only to get involved after dad is accused of murder.
The crime aspect of the story is actually a pretty minor sidebar, although Billy Bob Thornton is a lot of fun as the opposing attorney. The real story is the truth about the complex family relationships, and I really liked that the initial and obvious 'dad's an old bigot, son is a cocky big shot' impression is a lot more interesting and involving. Vera Farmiga pops up as an old girlfriend from Downey's past and again, they manage to make what at first glance is a cliched role, much more interesting.
At over 2 hours, the film is a bit overlong, but the actors are classy, and the painful family dynamics are engrossing. It's nice to see a film that isn't a remake, a sequel or an adaptation of a book/ comic book. 7/10

October 2014.

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