The Judge

by Michael Siebender

Robert Downey Jr, plays Hank Palmer, an expert urban lawyer who finds his way back home to rural Indiana when his mother dies and then his estranged father, played by Robert Duvall, a small town judge, finds himself suspected of murder. Billy Bob Thornton easily matches Downey Jr’s intelligence and confidence as the prosecuting attorney, which eventually involves the reluctant Hank. Filmmakers unpackage the Palmer family background very well using the circumstances, settings (filmed in Massachusetts), and family conflicts that are easily relatable to audiences. Vera Farmiga plays local “townie” Samantha and her daughter is played by Leighton Meester while Vincent D’Onofrio plays Hank’s brother Glen with Jeremy Strong playing the youngest Palmer son Dale. Melissa Leo and Dax Shepard also have great supporting roles.

Other positive enhancements include the musical score and cinematography from Janusz Kaminski, a frequent collaborator with Steven Spielberg. The 141-minute running time never really lags.  Rated R for continuous strong language, including some sexual references.

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