Tis the season of family and film. And family films. And films about family.
Since the first time I heard about THE JUDGE I was excited to see it. (Full disclosure: it was mainly because I appreciate Robert Downey Jr. as a human being.) But I also love movies about family dynamics. Last year I was obsessed with AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY, which was the most family in a film I could take. So when I found out that THE JUDGE would not only have RDJ, but also be a movie about family, I was pretty excited. On Black Friday (aka the day after Thanksgiving) I sat down to watch the 140 minute film.
The basic premise is that Robert Downey Jr’s character doesn’t get along with his father (Robert Duvall), who is a respected judge in small town Indiana. But he has to help him get through a legal issue, during which they also need to work out their many issues. They both have tons of guilt, anger and resentment towards each other. This is pretty common is films about families. Usually one of the siblings “made it out” of the small town and despises everything the town represents. The parent(s) resent the child for thinking they’re “too good” and the siblings resent them because they were the ones who had to stick around and care for the parents. There’s a lot of this in the film of course, culminating in a fight during a literal tornado. This was quite an important turning point.
One thing that films about family have in common is that things begin to be resolved when truth comes out. When people are allowed to air their grievances, healing begins. Unfortunately, in real life, it’s much more difficult than in the movies. It’s now that time of year where we think about our families and possibly even go great distances to spend time with them. Some people find this to be an exhausting experience where old wounds and angers surface. This year, I challenge everyone to try to resolve one issue, or at least get it off of your chest. Try to let go of old issues and be upfront about current ones. Even if nothing changes, you’ll feel better knowing that effort has been made on your end, which will give you some closure. If there’s anything I’ve learned this year, it’s that there isn’t always a “next year.” The time to resolve an issue with a family member is yesterday.
For anyone who needs a little help dealing with family issues, I’ve created a family-related playlist. Enjoy!