The Judge (2014 film)
The Judge is a 2014 American legal drama film directed by David Dobkin. The film stars Robert Downey Jr., Robert Duvall, Vera Farmiga, Vincent D'Onofrio, Jeremy Strong, Dax Shepard and Billy Bob Thornton. The film was released in the United States on October 10, 2014. It received mixed reviews; critics praised the performances of Duvall and Downey as well as Thomas Newman's score, but criticized the formulaic nature of its script and the lack of development for its supporting characters.
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||David Dobkin|
|Music by||Thomas Newman|
|Edited by||Mark Livolsi|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros. Pictures|
|Box office||$84.4 million|
Duvall received multiple award nominations for his performance as Judge Joseph Palmer, including the Academy Award, Golden Globe Award, Screen Actors Guild Award and Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actor. Thomas Newman also received a Satellite Award nomination for Best Original Score.
Hank Palmer (Robert Downey Jr.) is an attorney in Chicago. His hometown is a small town in Indiana, named Carlinville. His mother has died and Hank himself is being sued for divorce by his adulterous wife. He returns to Carlinville for his mother's funeral.
In Carlinville, Hank reunites with his older brother Glen (Vincent D'Onofrio), owner of a tire shop, and his younger brother Dale (Jeremy Strong), who has autism. Hank's father, Joseph Palmer (Robert Duvall) is the judge of the criminal court in town. He is losing his faculties which is demonstrated by the fact that he doesn't remember his own bailiff's name.
Hank sees his father, Judge Palmer for the first time in many years, presiding in court, from the court gallery, the day before the funeral. The morning after the funeral, Hank finds damage on his father's Cadillac, with the right front headlight and fender ruined. Joseph remembers no accident. Hank speculates his father was drinking and driving, and accuses him. Joseph reacts defensively and Hank leaves, promising never to return.
Before the airliner can lift off, Hank learns that Joseph is a suspect regarding a fatal hit and run accident. The victim is Mark Blackwell (Mark Kie), an ex-convict who had served a twenty year sentence for murder and was sentenced by Joseph himself.
Blackwell's blood is confirmed by forensics on the Cadillac and Joseph is indicted. Dwight Dickham (Billy Bob Thornton) is the prosecuting attorney and Joseph is charged with first-degree murder. Hank and Judge Palmer hire C.P. Kennedy (Dax Shepard) as their defense attorney. Kennedy's defense is less than competent, which terrifies Hank.
Out of dread, Hank is inclined to defend his father and he finds out that Joseph was undergoing chemotherapy. He is dying of terminal cancer and Judge Palmer's inability to remember either the accident or his bailiff's name is one side effect of the chemotherapy treatments.
At the trial, Judge Palmer insists on testifying, out of his own sense of ethical responsibility, and scuttles the defense by testifying that he cannot remember the accident, but believes that he probably did kill Blackwell intentionally. Judge Palmer is cleared of murder but convicted on a lesser charge and sentenced to four years confinement by Judge Warren (Ken Howard). The sentence to be served in Indiana State Prison. Hank breaks down, reduced to tears.
Seven months later, Hank is called back from Chicago once again, to Carlinville. The prosecuting attorney, Dwight Dickham, has signed off on a petition for compassionate release, so that Judge Palmer can go home to die as he is losing his battle to cancer.
Hank and Judge Palmer go fishing in a rowboat on a lake where it appears that the old animosity is gone. The judge finally dies, at peace, after complimenting Hank on his craft. The flag over the courthouse flies at half-staff in honor of Judge Joseph Palmer. Hank visits the courthouse and spins the judge's chair before it stops to face him, implying an invitation.
- Robert Downey Jr. as Henry "Hank" Palmer, the Chicago lawyer
- Robert Duvall as Judge Joseph Palmer, the judge, Hank's father
- Vera Farmiga as Samantha "Sam" Powell, Hank’s ex-girlfriend
- Vincent D'Onofrio as Glen Palmer, Hank's older brother
- Jeremy Strong as Dale Palmer, Hank's younger brother
- Billy Bob Thornton as Dwight Dickham, the Prosecutor
- Sarah Lancaster as Lisa Palmer, Hank's wife
- David Krumholtz as Mike Kattan
- Emma Tremblay as Lauren Palmer
- Ken Howard as Judge Warren
- Leighton Meester as Carla Powell, Samantha's illegitimate daughter
- Dax Shepard as Attorney C.P. Kennedy
- Denis O'Hare as Doc Morris
- Frank L. Ridley as Jury Foreman
- Mark Kiely as Mark Blackwell
- Jeremy Holm as Redneck
The film was executive produced by Steven Mnuchin. The script was originally written by Nick Schenk. In March 2011, the script was to be rewritten by David Seidler. In April 2013, Bill Dubuque was enlisted to rewrite it. The casting of Robert Duvall, Vincent D'Onofrio, Vera Farmiga, and Dax Shepard was reported in March 2013. The studios had expressed an interest in Jack Nicholson playing Joseph, but Nicholson turned down the role and it was given to Duvall. Meester joined the cast in April 2013.
Principal photography started on May 31, 2013 in Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts. Shooting also took place in Attleboro, Belmont, Dedham, Sunderland, and Waltham, Massachusetts. Scenes also were filmed in Pennsylvania and Worcester, Massachusetts. The film is set in the fictional town of Carlinville, Indiana.
On February 27, 2014, Thomas Newman was hired to compose the music for the film. WaterTower Music released a soundtrack album on October 7, 2014. The film's closing titles feature Willie Nelson's version of the Coldplay song "The Scientist", and Bon Iver's song "Holocene" is also featured prominently in the film.
The film was shown at the opening night of the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival on September 4, 2014. It was premiered in Los Angeles on October 1, 2014 at the Beverly Hills' Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The film was released on October 10, 2014 in the United States.
The Judge grossed $47.1 million in North America and $37.3 million in other territories for a worldwide total of $84.4 million, against a budget of $50 million.
In North America, the film grossed $13.1 million in its opening weekend from 3,003 theaters (a per theater average of $4,368), finishing 5th at the box office. The biggest markets in other territories were Russia, Italy and Mexico, where the film grossed $4.4 million, $2.99 million and $2.84 million, respectively.
The Judge received mixed reviews from critics. Rotten Tomatoes, the review aggregator website, gave the film a rating of 48%, based on 191 reviews, with an average rating of 5.6/10. The site's consensus reads: "Solidly cast and beautifully filmed but thoroughly clichéd, The Judge seems destined to preside over a large jurisdiction of the basic cable afternoon-viewing circuit." Metacritic gave the film a score of 48 out of 100, based on 39 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". On CinemaScore, audiences gave the film an average grade of "A-" on an A+ to F scale.
Geoffrey Macnab of The Independent wrote, "For all its contrivances and occasional lapses into On Golden Pond-style mawkishness, this is a richly crafted yarn that boasts barnstorming, if very showy performances from Duvall and Downey Jr." Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian gave a mixed to positive review, writing, "There are plenty of emotional fireworks in this big, soupy but entertaining picture, which is obvious Oscar bait." Entertainment Weekly critic Chris Nashawaty gave the film a "B" rating, and stated, "I don't expect The Judge to usher in a new era of legal thrillers, but I'm happy to see Downey leave the Marvel universe and Baker Street behind."
|List of awards and nominations|
|Year||Award / Film Festival||Category||Recipient(s) and nominee(s)||Result|
|2014||Hollywood Music in Media Awards||Best Original Score – Feature Film||Thomas Newman||Nominated|
|Mill Valley Film Festival||Best U.S. Feature Film||The Judge (David Dobkin)||2nd Place|
|Heartland Film Festival||Truly Moving Picture||Won|
|18th Hollywood Film Awards||Supporting Actor of the Year||Robert Duvall||Won|
|87th Academy Awards||Best Supporting Actor||Nominated|
|72nd Golden Globe Awards||Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture||Nominated|
|21st Screen Actors Guild Awards||Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role||Nominated|
|20th Critics' Choice Awards||Best Supporting Actor||Nominated|
|19th Satellite Awards||Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture||Nominated|
|Best Original Score||Thomas Newman||Nominated|
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