Release year: 2014
Director: David Dobkin
Screenwriter: Nick Schenk, Bill Dubuque, David Dobkin
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Robert Duvall, Vera Farmiga, Billy Bob Thornton, Vincent D’Onofrio, Jeremy Strong, Dax Shepard
Ratings: 1 Oscar nomination: Best Supporting Actor (Robert Duvall). 1 Golden Globe nomination: Best Supporting Actor (Robert Duvall).
When his mother dies lost son and succesful big-city lawyer Hank Palmer (Robert Downey Jr.) returns home to the place and people he left years ago. But when his father ends in a position where he needs Hank he steps in and slowly starts working through his issues with his father and ulmativly himself.
This, the first feature film to be produced by Robert Downey Jr. and his wife Susan Downey, is truly a character driven film. Whether taking place in the courtroom or dealing with family issues, the story is brought foreward by the performances of the actors, which luckyli is creme de la creme. Downey Jr. (Wonder Boys, 2000) is superb as the lawyer who despite his succes at work still is damaged from a past he chose to run away from rather than confront. His charisma ensures he keeps our sympathy and manages to tell us a far more advanced story through facial expressions alone reminding us what terrific actor he is. Said past is evolving around a strict and unforgiving father played terrifically by the excellent Duvall (Apocalypse Now, 1979). The two talented men circle around each other throughout the movie while more and more emotion surfaces and adds to the tension. With a strong support from D’Onofrio (Full Metal Jacket, 1987) as Hank’s brother, Farmiga (Up in the Air, 2009) as the lost love and Thornton (Sling Blade, 1996) the scene is set for acting in world class. The story of an estranged parent as well as the courtroom drama is not a particular fresh one and the movie’s biggest flaw is that the story doesn’t really excuse the long running time but you feel at good company. A moving story that never rushing moves along quietly for a bit too long but with amazing acting that makes sure the movie stays with you for careful afterthought and appreciation.
The screenplay for this film was featured in the 2012 Blacklist; a list of the “most liked” unmade scripts of the year.
Picture copyright: SF Film