Robert Downey Jr. and Robert Duvall play son and father at odds with each other in The Judge.

Robert Downey Jr. and Robert Duvall play son and father at odds with each other in The Judge.

Reel Reviews: The one judge you need to see

Just because Gone Girl came out is no reason to miss The Judge, starring Robert Downey Jr. and Robert Duvall.

  • Oct. 17, 2014 6:00 a.m.


hen his mother dies, a big-city lawyer Hank Palmer (Robert Downey Jr.) returns to his rural hometown for her funeral. While home he discovers his father, the judge (Robert Duvall), is about to be put on trial for murder. At odds with his entire family, but especially his father, only by representing him can Palmer suss out the truth, not only about the case, but also about themselves.

We say, “Just because Gone Girl came out is no reason to miss The Judge.”

TAYLOR: Especially if you’re older, this is a film about relationships at the end of life. It’s about finding meaning in one’s life and how those findings are limited to yourself, yet must be respected by others, regardless of deemed merit. Such is it that the father and son, at such profound odds with each other, can find each other before it’s too late. The case of murder, in terms of the plot’s vehicle, is perhaps a bit thin, as it is built upon apparent memory problems. Yet, I found myself, if not agreeing with the judge’s moral stance, at least respecting it by the conclusion.

HOWE: I looked around the theatre and I think I was the youngest there, which is a shame as this is a marvellous movie. Perhaps because it doesn’t have the explosions, fighting or car chases it won’t pull the younger audience in to watch it. The Judge doesn’t have the wow factor so it has to rely on the talents of its actors and they all pull through fantastically. It was a nice change to see Downey Jr. play a down-to-earth role, rather than Iron Man or Sherlock Holmes. You also had some smaller roles for Dax Shepard and Billy Bob Thornton. Even though these were supporting roles, they pulled the script even tighter together and did a great job.

TAYLOR: The Judge does have a great cast. Together they worked a rather blunt story into an honest, subtle work that made me experience human emotions.

The Judge made me think about my dad, my sons, my mortality. I came home from the movie and my wife asked me how it was, I said, “a bit of a bummer.” However, after having slept on it and then waking to the sun coming up over such beautiful fall colours in the Valley, I remembered that everyone is a better person by the end of the movie. Take someone you love to The Judge.

HOWE: It’s been a nice change the last couple of weeks that we have seen some really good, strong movies. Don’t miss this one.

– Taylor gives The Judge 4 imaginary gavels out of 5.

– Howe gives it 4 film reels out of 5.

The film is playing at the Galaxy Cinemas in Vernon

Brian Taylor and Peter Howe are film reviewers based in Vernon, B.C. Their column, Reel Reviews, is published in The Morning Star Friday and Sunday.