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Saturday, February 28, 2015

The Judge (2014)

Somehow I am on a streak of dysfunctional family movies.  This one shines a big light on a father-son relationship gone quite wrong.  Robert Duvall plays Joseph, a "Great Santini" kind of father (he was nominated for an Academy Award for that role, and then again for this one), and Robert Downey, Jr. plays his bitter and successful son, Hank.  Hank is a jaded, expensive defense attorney who is in the middle of defending yet another rich guilty guy when he gets a voice mail from his brother that their mother died.

On his way out of town to the funeral we get a glimpse into Hanks home life--he loves his daughter, and his wife has tired of his absent lifestyle but rather than deal with it she has slept with someone else and they are divorcing.  At Hank's home it is clear that he and his father have old grudges that are not going away any time soon, and his brother's are caught in the middle.  But they stayed near home and Hank headed for the hills.  He is odd man out in the family in many ways, but the person he seems closest to in personality is his much loathed father.

The film unrolls in a predictable old-fashioned way where we learn why the son hates the father, and why the father can't apologize to the son (which he should of, but he doesn't).  They film does not touch the very damaged relationship between Hank and his older brother, but that is the constraints of the medium.  The film is long at 2.5 hours, but I didn't get restless for it to be over, and I found it well done.

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