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Review The Judge (2014)

genre: drama

The Judge might be a title that is a little misleading. It heavily suggests that it is going to be a courtroom drama. And while some of the film does take place in the courtroom this is very much a film about a father and son reconnecting. Which is done superbly. Both Robert Duvall and Robert Downy Junior make the roles their own and it is them who make The Judge as good as it is. After having read some reviews on the net I was a bit shocked that quite a few people have branded this movie as being bad and even laughable. For the life of me I have no clue what these people are talking about. Is the film a little melodramatic? Yes, it is. But in this case I think it is very suitable. Emphasis is put on how the dynamics are between a father and son. To expose what is going through them you have to exaggerate their characteristics. It has to be made clear to the audience why they have fallen out. Judge Palmer (played by Robert Duvall) is an incredibly stubborn man. It is very hard to get through him. Knowing first hand how that is I could very much relate to Hank Palmer and why he felt like he did. There are several scenes where Hank Palmer is shown that he is reaching out but the father is too full of pride or obstinate too reply in the way he wants. Those scenes will get to you. And they get to you because the audience is shown how it affects Robert Downey's character. Now I do understand that being able to relate to all of this helps enormously. But how can't you not relate? The theme between parents and children is a very universal one and in this film they get right down to the core of it. Hank Palmer wants his father to show him that he loves him and is very proud of him. Doesn't any child want praise from parents in one form or another? This is so very basic and really makes me wonder how people can have problems with such a theme. The court case is used as a plot device to force the father and son to interact. Now I do wished that it was handled a little better than it did but in hindsight, it does show how incredibly stubborn Judge Palmer is. There was one sub plot featuring Vera Farmiga that felt redundant and even distracted a little too much from the main one since for me it did not add anything. It was very much filler and could have easily been left out and would have made the film a lot shorter and even more powerful. The Judge is far from perfect and maybe not as thrilling or eventful as some might have hoped. Still it is very effective and never feels like a waste of time. One to watch for sure!

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