The Judge 2014 ***

Directed by David Dobkin, The Judge’s old-fashioned courtroom drama didn’t find much favour with audiences or critics; as a vehicle for Robert Downey Jr, it’s a watchable and well-performed drama that gives its start the opportunity to expand his range. Downey Jr plays Hank Palmer, a successful but unscrupulous lawyer who returns to his small-town home when his father Joseph (Robert Duvall) is involved in a road accident. Joseph is a judge, and the legal complications about his guilt leave Hank is something of a quandary. Vera Farmiga is sweetheart interest Samantha, and an incest subplot with her daughter would have been better excised. But Downey Jr and Duvall both provide slick, accessible performances, and The Judge doesn’t hold back from the strains on a father-son relationship when the old man’s illness becomes apparent.


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