Sunday, October 19, 2014

'The Judge': Family, The First Social Medium

The Myth Of The Stork:
How nice it would be if families became populated by  long legged white storks, wearing  telegram  denim hats, who dropped each household's next bundle of joy down a well placed chimney. Not so,  says  'The Judge'.
In this more than excellent film starring Robert Downey Jr, Robert Duvall, and a cast of other fine thespians, the suggestion is that families--perhaps through osmosis even--simply evolve. And their point of evolution is seldom that of joy alone. However non-intentional rough bumps may infiltrate  families, the bumps may become as  useful in charting a family member's 'good points' as those stand up moments along the way so often credited for doing so.

With The Court System As Background:
Judge Joseph Palmer (Duvall) and his thirty-something brilliant lawyer son, Hank (Downey, Jr.) resume unfinished business when they reconvene to bury the family matriarch.

In returning to his past , Downey, Jr's character discovers that apart from the wallpaper in the house in which he once called home--everything has changed. However upscale his life in Chicago now is, his two brothers, his old girlfriend, and the small town itself, all help to create an inexplicable tension for him.

It is his  father alone (Robert Duvall),  who offers an element of sameness from Hank's earlier days. And it is that discovery,  which permits  'The Judge'  to weaves its compelling drama.

While still on the bench, the aging Judge Palmer is accused of murdering a town local. Unfinished business notwithstanding,  father and son both know--that his best defense lies in Hank's legal prowess.


Director David Dobkin fine tuned his scenes and the forces behind the screenwriters' well chosen dialogue ( Nick Schenk, David Seidler, and Bill Dubuque). The combination  of ingenious scripting and good directing  allows zero room for  distraction as the drama progresses from beginning to end. I remained absorbed and drawn into its action with each fleeting moment.  Though grounded in  a law and order platform, the film bears strong undertones of  unresolved family issues.

A truly focused group of support actors delivers a powerful examination of what happens in families in those 20 years or so--years that rescue one  member while contaminating another. Together with Duvall and Downey, Jr.--Vera Farmiga, Vincent D'Onofrio, Dax Shepard, Jeremy Strong, Sarah Lancaster, and Billy Bob Thornton  create sheer magic .

You won't want to miss this one.  Rest assured that 'The Judge' will merit your time; and your likely desire to take in a repeat showing soon. It's a  5-Star event just waiting to make you think, and to appreciate dramatic cinema at its best.

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