The Judge tells the story of a lawyer son disconnected from his judge father, who in all fairness made it pretty easy to happen. However, he is brought back to his hometown for his mothers funeral which thrusts him back into his family’s life. During his time their, his father becomes involved in a hit and run that could ruin his reputation. His son rises to the challenge and defends his father.
First and foremost, what stuck out the most in this film is the chemistry between the son and the father played by Robert Downey Jr. and Robert Duvall. Perfectly balanced, they do a great job of matching each others intensity and demonstrating true natural feeling of a strained father/son relationship. They both keep their usual mannerisms that you will see through out their acting careers. Downey delivers lines in short erratic spurts and Duvall delivers them in such powerful way that is frankly needed to stop Downey. However you choose to interpret it, they are the heart and soul of this movie and their are very few other pairs of actors that I believe could bring a similarly emotionally charged performance.
If you do see this film, you should pay attention to the framing of the shots. There are multiple times during the film where I mentally “Oh, that’s a cool way to do that scene”, I literally took a moment to realize what the director was doing. For example, the chief drama in this film is drawn from the confrontations between Downey and Duvall. After one particular event and subsequent argument we see them both storm out of the car half way home, leaving in different directions. The other two brothers who have been caught in the middle of these two are perplexed as to who to follow. The shot itself is a medium shot that shows the car in the center with father and son walking off in two separate directions. It’s fairly obvious what the director had intended here. To visually represent the current relationships of each character, summarized in one shot.
There are a few other moments that are similar that I won’t spoil for you but pay attention to the last scene in the film, it was a particularly well done little sequence. While our two leads definitely stand out, they are well supported with a cast fills out their roles nicely. They are out of the main view enough where you feel they don’t need too much development while still being relevant enough where you care about them.
Ultimately a well-balanced film and in my opinion worth a watch.