Film review: The Judge

Robert Downey Jr. can be a funny man, but he has not been able to reach the same level of playful deadpan that made Kiss Kiss Bang Bang so riveting despite the almost Brechtian insistence on alienation.

His latest film, The Judge, in which he plays star defense attorney Hank Palmer at a big Chicago law firm, starts out looking like Intolerable Cruelty but ends up deep in the land of sentiment as it digs into the past and tries to explain away a lifetime of domestic cruelty with one simple explanation that may be emotionally poignant but is not intellectually satisfying.

The judge in the title is Hank’s father, Joseph (Robert Duvall), who has served as the top legal official of the tiny town of Carlinville, Indiana, for more than four decades. The film opens with Hank receiving the news that his mother has died, and so he makes the trip to Carlinville to say his last goodbye. Once he arrives, he finds old grudges, old flames and a wholly predictable measure of catharsis.

To read the full review, visit The Prague Post. The Judge is currently on wide release in Bulgaria.

(Still of Robert Downey Jr. and Robert Duvall in The Judge. © 2014 – Warner Bros. Pictures/Village Roadshow Pictures)