The Judge, 2014
Starring Robert Downey Jr. and Robert Duvall
Synopsis (from IMDB):
Big city lawyer Hank Palmer returns to his childhood home where his father, the town’s judge, is suspected of murder. Hank sets out to discover the truth and, along the way, reconnects with his estranged family.
This film had my attention from the first second and held it rapt until it ended 141 minutes later. The phenomenal acting, cinematography and musical score added to the artistry of the entire work. The story may seem like a simple one, a variation of the classic prodigal son, but the nuances in this film really portrayed the characters in a rich and layered way and transported you into their world to deal with their dilemmas. What truly is justice? How can we keep our integrity? Can one truly get the ‘correct’ outcome if you use incorrect means to do so?
“O Son of Spirit! The best beloved of all things in My sight is Justice; turn not away therefrom if thou desirest Me, and neglect it not that I may confide in thee. By its aid thou shalt see with thine own eyes and not through the eyes of others, and shalt know of thine own knowledge and not through the knowledge of thy neighbor. Ponder this in thy heart; how it behooveth thee to be. Verily justice is My gift to thee and the sign of My loving-kindness. Set it then before thine eyes.” ~ Bahá’u’lláh
Through out the film the director made excellent use of light to indicate points in which characters reached clarity or a higher level of understanding, as well as changes in focus to indicate confusion or the strong weight of stress that fully brought to life the thoughts and emotions of the characters in a way that helped the viewer really wrestle with the same issues. Family relationships and dynamics are complex, and sometimes, try as we may, we are unable to practice the same levels of justice and compassion we strive for externally within our own family. When we realize this it can take both effort and humility to repair the damage we have done to each other and the people we love most.
“O Lord! Have pity on these ignorant ones and look upon them with the eye of forgiveness and pardon. Extinguish this fire, so that these dense clouds which obscure the horizon may be scattered, the Sun of Reality shine forth with the rays of conciliation, this intense gloom be dispelled and the resplendent light of peace shed its radiance upon all…” ~‘Abdu’l‑Bahá
Watching this film made we want to go home and hug my Dad. That being said, it wasn’t overly sentimental. It just touched upon the inherent complexity within familial relationships in a beautiful, powerful yet subtle way. If you have not seen this film I highly recommend you watch in and then think about how we each can treat the people around us more justly and more mercifully.