The judge is appealing first of all because of the great cast, with Robert Downey Jr, Robert Duvall, Vera Farmiga, Vincent D’onofrio and Billy Bob Thornton. They all perform brilliantly in this family drama, which is not an original story really, but it’s acted so well that you feel the emotion and see both sides of the story. Robert Downey Jr plays a brilliant lawyer who is not always concerned with morality as winning is the main objective. Despite his achievements he is the black sheep of the family due to his reckless behaviour, which has ruined relationships, his brothers career and made seeing his father particularly difficult. His father is a judge and very proud of his standing within the small community in which he lives. Everything is done by the book although he can be very harsh, he is fair and only does things because he thinks he is helping. Father and son differ in their views which has created a giant wedge between them.
The two other brothers fill the judge with great pride, where as Hank played by Downey can do nothing right. Career wise he has far exceeded anyone in the family, but the rest is a complete mess. Hank has moved away from the small town both in body and mind, looking for the bright lights of the city away from the shadow that his father’s reputation has cast over him. They are brought together by the mother’s death although it is very uncomfortable for all of them. The mother’s death brings about an event that means father has to lean on son and its very hard to take.
Pride gets in the way as does failing health which leads to an undignified moment which the father deals with surprisingly well. There is a comical side to this moment which is heart warming and brings out a closeness that the relationship has lacked for so many years. They learn a lot about each other over the course of the film as secrets are revealed and emotions are spilt. There is anger, fear, disgrace, disappointment, but there is love despite the negativity. By the end of the film there is understanding and although you don’t see it on film I believe Hank come out a far better person.
The performances are brilliant from all involved particularly from Duvall and Downey. Their relationship is the core of ‘ll that happens. It also effects the relationships they have with others including sons, daughters, partners and wives. I really enjoyed the film and although it’s not original it does draw you in, make you think and also look at your own relationships.