How do you defend someone who never defended you? That’s the heart of this thriller/family drama (out Oct. 10) starring Robert Downey Jr. as a Chicago defense attorney who returns to his small town to represent his hostile father (Robert Duvall) in a murder case.
Duvall plays the imperious title character: a living symbol of justice in their community and a tyrant in his own household — factors that compelled his son to flee years before. A family funeral brings Downey’s character home, but it’s another death that keeps him there. ”Against his own instincts and desire, he ends up staying to defend his dad from what may or may not be an intentional vehicular manslaughter case,” Downey says. ”Everybody knows a dad like the judge. It’s this very American story. But it’s also a story about family and reconciliation.”
The film has flashes of humor, but it’s definitely more of a dramatic turn for director David Dobkin, best known for Wedding Crashers. And it’s the first project from Team Downey, the new production company founded by the actor and his wife, longtime producer Susan Downey (the Sherlock Holmes films, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang). ”Our storytelling is character-driven but on a commercial level,” Susan says. ”We wanted to do something outside the big movie tentpole projects.” So no Iron Man suit — just emotional armor this time.