Superlative Acting Amid Cliches

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Sometimes doldrums take over before the summer movie blockbusters, and that’s where we seem to be in early June of 2015. So this weekend I opted for one of the most highly promoted movies of 2014, The Judge. It’s a handsomely cast movie: Robert Duvall, Vince D’Onofrio, Billy Bob Thornton, Robert Downey, Jr., and Vera Farmiga, among others. The cinematography is superb, and the acting top drawer, eliciting at least one Oscar nomination last year.

But the story?

D’Onofrio and Downey are 2 sons of Duvall, and Duvall can’t seem to help reprising bits and pieces of Santini here. The boys’ mother has died, and while Downey, a big city lawyer, is visiting for the funeral, his father is accused of murder. It’s a small town scenario, and easy for most citizens to take sides when Downey takes up his father’s case in court. Duvall is sick, and of course the plot works its way through a cascade of cliches before the final scenes. Still, I didn’t mind the hairless plot; the acting was that good. This was clearly a vehicle for Downey, and D’Onofrio and Duvall did an excellent job of downplaying their parts to second banana status. If you’re looking for new, provoking plot twists, this isn’t your movie. But if you want great acting and entertainment, check out The Judge.

My rating: 15 of 20 stars

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