TIFF 2014: The Judge Review

The Judge

Gala (Opening Night Film)

It’s not that the Robert Downey Jr./Robert Duvall familial, courtroom face to face is patently unwatchable, but it feels as if it were created by robots in a laboratory that were programmed to exactly pin-point the kind of legal drama that would slay in the sticks.

Hotshot big city defense attorney Hank Palmer (Downey) gets called home to attend to his mother’s funeral in a small Indiana town. In addition to reconnecting with his well-to-do brother (Vincent D’Onofrio), his well meaning, mentally disabled brother (Jeremy Strong), and his ex-girlfriend who can apparently only speak in down home metaphors (a thoroughly squandered Vera Farmiga), he also gets some quality time with his hardass judge of a pops (Duvall). Just as he’s about to leave their lives for good, Hank gets called back when his dad is accused in the vehicular manslaughter of a man the judge once put away.

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The Judge

The familial dynamic between Downey and his siblings and father feels realistic, mostly due to some great performances all around. (And Janusz Kaminski’s better than it needs to be cinematography deserves a mention, too.)  But no matter how much Downey turns on the charm and Duvall glowers gruffly at his least favourite son, everything here comes wrapped in every court movie and familial drama cliché ever created. Not a single thing that happens in the latest film from David Dobkin (Fred Claus, Wedding Crashers) comes as a surprise. It’s just an excuse for actors to look tearfully at each other while sharing the most basic of guilty feelings.

Everything you need to know about this film is summed up by the credits where Willie Nelson does a cover of a Coldplay song. (Andrew Parker)

Screens

Thursday, September 4th, 10:00pm, Winter Garden Theatre

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Friday, September 5th, 12:00pm, Roy Thomson Hall


SPiN TORONTO - A Ping Pong Social Club

Thanks to SPiN TORONTO for sponsoring our TIFF 2014 coverage.

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