The Judge

“There are a number of fine reasons to see the courtroom-meets-family melodrama The Judge. As you might suspect, two stand out: actors Robert Duvall and Robert Downey Jr. Portraying estranged father and son, respectively, honorable judge and hot-shot defense attorney the duo circle each other, square off, growl and draw blood.

“After a willful absence, Hank Palmer (Downey Jr.) returns to Carlinville, Ind., for his beloved mother's funeral. Much like he did 20 years earlier, he high-tails it out of the bucolic town as soon as he can. Only, he's called back by older brother Glen (Vincent D'Onofrio) when the judge is hauled in by the sheriff for a car accident.

“Joseph Palmer's '73 Coupe DeVille has a battered fender and blood on the grille. A man was found dead on a dark, wet road. Turns out, the man and the judge have a history. The sort of past that allows a prosecutor to lay out a case for premeditation.

“Beyond the "did he or didn't he?" quandaries, more familial mysteries hang in the summertime humidity. The Judge foregrounds familial wounds against a backdrop of courtroom tension. Due to some barbed dialogue by Nick Schenk and Bill Dubuque, this drama finds prickly tenderness in subtle, even humorous, revelations about fathers and sons, home and hometowns.

“Downey Jr. and Duvall satisfy a moviegoer's yearning for performances of stillness and bravado, not afraid of sentiment or grace.” - Lisa Kennedy, Denver Post


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