I am British. I have been conditioned since before my conception to shy away from taking pride in my achievements and believing in my own hype. We are self-depreciating to the point of self-loathing and although we do this while standing under a dark rain cloud we do it with a knowing smile showing the world that life is in fact, alright.
It is my adoration for all things humble that makes Robert Downey Jnr a bit too on the nose for my taste. He is a confident man who is enjoying his own hype and although the line between reality and caricature has become somewhat blurred the world seems to love him and I am not passionate enough about this subject to argue.
The TV spots (not the trailer) were enough to convince me that The Judge would be a decent enough way to spend a Saturday afternoon.
PLOT: Hotshot defence lawyer Hank Palmer (Robert Downey Jnr) returns to his native hometown in
America circa 1955 Indiana after
the sad passing of his estranged mother. After the funeral Hank’s father and local Judge, Joseph Palmer
(Robert Duvall) is arrested following a hit and run accident. Before you can say Doc Hollywood Hank stays in
town and family secrets are revealed as he tries to defend……….The Judge (roll
credits). END PLOT
The Judge is full of familiar tropes such as quirky family members, the wise old flame and the classic almost-incest mishap. If you have seen it before you will no doubt see it again in The Judge. Luckily for the audience, as the run time is a not short 2hours 20mins, the script is fairly engaging and handles the balance between family drama and humour well. Nevertheless, there is more tension in an episode of Judge Judy than there is in The Judge.
Robert Duvall is excellent in the title role and he handles his characters development in an uncomfortably real manner. There are moments that will always strike an emotional chord with me and watching someone talk to the coffin of a loved one is one of said moments. Duvall’s fall from the powerful Judge to a frail old man shows that he is the true star of the film and frankly the only person who made any effort.
I hinted earlier that I may not be the biggest fan of Downey Jnr but in The Judge he is well cast as
Hank Palmer. This is not a compliment as
Downey Jnr coasts merrily along and doesn’t bother to push himself. The line between perfect and lazy casting is
The always wonderful Vera Farmiga shows up in a thankless role as the old girlfriend who has made it rich but refuses to leave her home town because she loves it so much. Her tattoo symbolises that she is a free spirit. Fuck off.
The biggest fault with The Judge is that it is playing for nominations rather than awards. It’s a made for TV movie with an A-List cast, at best. It gets 4/10. The potential was there the sad thing is no one bothered to make use of it.