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The Judge (2014 film)

The Judge (2014 film)

The Judge is a 2014 American legal drama film directed by David Dobkin. The film stars Robert Downey Jr. and Robert Duvall with Vera Farmiga, Vincent D'Onofrio, Jeremy Strong, Dax Shepard and Billy Bob Thornton in supporting roles. The film was released in the United States on October 10, 2014. It received mixed reviews; critics praised the performances of Duvall and Downey and Thomas Newman's score. However, they criticized the formulaic nature of its script and the lack of development for supporting characters.

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 received a Satellite Award nomination for Best Original Score.


Hank Palmer is a lawyer in Chicago. Before returning to his hometown in Indiana to attend his mother’s funeral, he argues with his wife, Lisa, whom he is divorcing for infidelity.

In Carlinville, Hank reunites with his older brother, Glen, a tire shop owner, and his younger brother, Dale. Hank's estranged father is Judge Joseph Palmer of Carlinville's criminal court, whom he calls "Judge." The two have been estranged due to the Judge's harsh treatment of Hank in his youth. When he had a car accident at seventeen, his brother Glen was injured, losing a chance for an MLB career. The Judge sent Hank to juvenile detention.

After his return, Hank watches his father presiding over a case. During the proceedings, the Judge cannot recall his long-time bailiff's name. The morning after the funeral, Hank notices that the Judge's car is damaged and accuses his father, a recovered alcoholic, of driving intoxicated. The Judge reacts defensively, having no memory of an accident. Hank's strained family relationship is further complicated by his former girlfriend, Sam Powell. He comes to believe that her daughter Carla, now in law school, may be his daughter. Sam tells him that his brother Glen is Carla's father, but that he does not know and she will never tell him.

After arguing with his father, Hank vows never to return to Carlinville and leaves for the airport. Just before his flight is to take off, Glen calls to say that their father is a suspect in a fatal hit-and-run accident. The victim, Mark Blackwell, is a recently released ex-convict whom Judge had sentenced to 20 years in prison for the murder of his 16-year-old girlfriend. Blackwell had killed her by drowning after the Judge had given him a light sentence of 30 days for shooting up the girl's house.

Judge is indicted after police forensics confirm that Blackwell's blood is on the Judge's Cadillac. He is charged with first-degree murder. The Judge hires local attorney C.P. Kennedy for his defense. When his defense proves ineffective, Hank takes over as lead counsel. While preparing for trial, he learns that his father is undergoing chemotherapy for terminal cancer. During this time, Hank's daughter, Lauren, arrives for a visit, meeting her grandfather for the first time and bonding with him.

At the trial, the Judge insists on testifying. He scuttles his defense by saying that he cannot remember the accident but believes he may have intentionally killed Blackwell. Hank pushes Judge until he admits that he had given Blackwell a light sentence for his first offense because Blackwell's circumstances had reminded Judge of Hank. Judge is convicted of voluntary manslaughter and sentenced to four years in the Indiana State Prison.

Seven months later, Hank returns as his father has been granted a compassionate release, requested by the prosecutor, to allow him to die at home. Fishing on a lake, Hank and Judge appear to have buried their mutual animosity. After praising Hank as a lawyer, the Judge peacefully dies on the boat. The courthouse flag flies at half-staff to honor him. Hank visits the courthouse and spins his father's chair; it stops, facing him.




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, Milton, Sunderland, and Waltham, Massachusetts. Scenes were also filmed in Worcester, Massachusetts, including Worcester Regional Airport, as well as locations in Pennsylvania. 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. and was released on DVD and Blu-ray on January 27, 2015.

Box office

The Judge grossed $13.1 million in its opening weekend in the United States and Canada, where it went on to earn $47.1 million, adding $37.3 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $84.4 million, against a budget of $45–$50 million.

Critical response

On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, 49% of 202 critics' reviews are positive, with an average rating of 5.6/10. The website'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, which uses a weighted average, assigned the film a score of 48 out of 100, based on 39 critics, indicating "mixed or average" reviews.

Film critic Richard Roeper gave the film a "C" rating, saying that it was "surprising how little we care about these characters."

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."



External links

  • The Judge at IMDb
  • The Judge at Box Office Mojo

Text submitted to CC-BY-SA license. Source: The Judge (2014 film) by Wikipedia (Historical)