The jury has reached a decision and the world premiere of The Judge will open the 39th Toronto International Film Festival on September 4, 2014. In the family/courtroom drama, Robert Downey Jr. plays Hank, a slick Chicago lawyer who returns home to Indiana for his mother’s funeral. But when his estranged father, the town’s judge (Robert Duvall) is accused of murder, the son comes to his dad’s defense. The cast also boasts such talented actors as Vera Farmiga, Billy Bob Thornton, and Melissa Leo. Although The Judge was announced as one of the Festival’s Gala Presentations earlier this week, it is unclear why organizers chose to announce the film as opener days later.
Festival CEO and director Piers Handling expressed his enthusiasm for the choice while praising the film’s director: “[David] Dobkin has delivered a moving, textured story about family, duty and the way we remember our past. We couldn’t have asked for a better start.” Dobkin, who previously directed such comedies as Shanghai Knights and Wedding Crashers, first attended the festival 15 years ago to screen his debut film, Clay Pigeons.
On his Facebook page, Robert Downey Jr. captioned a photo of himself and his wife holding up the Canadian flag: “Such an honor to kick off this ten-day event for audiences who are true fans of cinema.”
The “Festival of Festivals,” which runs September 4 to 14, marks the unofficial beginning of awards season, and the movie that eventually wins Best Picture usually screens at TIFF. Should The Judge go on to win Oscar gold? You’ll just have to see the film in Toronto and decide for yourself. ~Daniel Horowitz