Dave’s 3-Word Review:
A decent drama.
Before you start asking, no this isn’t the latest adaptation of another John Grisham novel. However, I do understand how you could be misinformed. This is no legal thriller, but it is a legal drama that has a lot of great character writing in it as well as legal writing in general. Some of you already know that I have a college degree in criminal justice, so I do have a decent interest in movie and tv shows that cover court cases…it’s fun to watch. The Judge is more character driven than anything else, but it wouldn’t be anything without a compelling murder case.
To give you some background on the film, you have a family that has a huge interest in all things centered on law. Robert Downey Jr. plays a brilliant defense lawyer that has had a really estranged relationship with his father, who is also a respected Judge (Robert Duvall) for several years – and when he gets news that his mother passed away, he visits his home town for the funeral. However, not long after the event, Robert Downey Jr’s character learns that his father has been arrested for murder. As much as he can’t stand his dad, he decides to represent him pro bono because the lawyer his dad picked out was an idiot.
There are a couple of things in the film that make it really compelling – the case and the relationships. As far as the case goes, let’s just say there are a lot of factors that look bad on the Judge. As an audience, you won’t be able to figure out if he did or didn’t do it right off bat – but you’ll love the evidence piling on top of each other – and Robert Downey Jr.’s continual attempts to explain everything in legal babble. If you just watched it for the murder case, it’s still a really captivating flick. However, its focus was strongly focused on the relationships between every character on screen – primarily speaking the estranged relationship between father and son – and why it has always been so strained.
The other relationships in the film have to do with the three brothers on screen and their past, as well as the old fling Robert’s character used to date…and the past there as well. There is so much regarding what happened prior to the events in the film that you have got to admit that it’s a lot of really strong character and story development. There was no loss in foundation here…they had it all figured from the get go. Had I gotten the opportunity, this would have certainly been in the running for Favorite Drama Movie of 2014 in my 2nd Annual Demmy Awards – but oh well.
Then again, my love for the film may all just be thanks to my love for legal dramas. That being said, it’s hard not to recognize the hard work and efforts the actors went through in the movie. I mean…Robert Duvall, man…there’s one really embarrassing scene you had to perform with Downey Jr, and you both did it with ease and professionalism – so I’m super impressed.
If you enjoy legal dramas, this fits right in there with a lot of other films currently occupied by John Grisham. This isn’t action or thriller-centered, but the drama, emotion, and the characters in the movie do a remarkable job at making this film absolutely captivating from every possible angle.
Look, people might find it boring. It’s 2.5 hours long for no apparent reason. That gives both the case and the relationships time to flourish and perfect, but it’ll be hard for any audience member not to notice time sometimes moves a bit slowly in the flick.