The Judge ***

Run Time: 142mins           Cert: 15

Synopsis: Big city lawyer Hank Palmer (Downey Jnr) returns to his childhood home where his father (Duvall), the town’s judge, is suspected of murder.

The courthouse drama makes a return to the big screen from the Director of The Wedding Crashers, David Dobkin.

A strange choice of director makes this a slick, but strangely unbalanced drama with two charismatic performances from the two Bobs. 

Downey Jr plays to all his strengths with his quick wit and arrogant confidence that makes his Lawyer character believable. Especially in his confrontational scenes with Billy Bob Thornton’s by the book prosecutor.

Duvall shows an incredible vulnerability in  his character as a man who was once on top and now is largely forgotten. 

The two greats work incredibly well together. Especially in a scene where the father has accidentally soiled himself and Hank must comfort and clean up his father, showing another side to these stubborn characters.

Cinematographer Janusz Kaminski gives a dark rustic glow to the look of the film which gives the piece an old fashioned look.
The story is compelling and thoughtful, if a little overloaded in plot. But Dobkin is never sure what to make of the film. Not to say he does not have honourable intentions and it is obvious he is trying to make the movie with sincerity, but in doing so brings alone to much sentimentality that the drama becomes slightly cheesy. A little humour could have been added to lighten the mood.

The Judge has a lot to recommend and for the most part is enjoyable to watch if a bit to long. But at the end of the day it falls short after promising so much.

Reviewed by Paul Logan

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