The Toronto International Film Festival kicked off its 39th annual edition with a father-son melodrama between Robert Downey Jr. and Robert Duvall.
"The Judge" premiered on Sept. 4 at Toronto's Roy Thompson Hall, opening the 10-day festival with some red carpet-ready star wattage in a prodigal son tale that plays out as a courtroom drama. Downey plays a high-price Chicago defense attorney returning to his Indiana hometown for his mother's funeral, only to be sucked into defending his judge father (Duvall), from whom he's long been estranged.
"A movie is only as good as its title character," said Downey, introducing his co-star. "The movie ... is really about a dad, and the dad has to be a mountain that Hank has to find a way to climb. So it's all contingent on: If we don't cast the right judge, this movie isn't going to work."
"The Judge" returns Downey to drama (albeit one laced throughout with comedy) after years spent primarily as either Tony Stark of "Iron Man" or Sherlock Holmes. Whether he can continue his box-office success in a courtroom drama will be a test for the actor.
His wife, Susan Downey (who is currently pregnant with the couple's second child), produced the film, as she has done regularly for Downey.
"The Judge" is also a challenge for director David Dobkin, whose previous films have been comedies, including "Wedding Crashers," ''The Change-Up" and "Fred Claus."
"It's not the kind of movie that gets made often in Hollywood," Dobkin, whose film will be released by Warner Bros., told the Associated Press. He added in an interview with Reuters, “These movies don't really get made any more. I grew up loving 'Kramer vs. Kramer' and 'Terms of Endearment' and 'The Verdict.'"
The Toronto Film Festival runs through Sept. 14 and “The Judge” will come to US theaters on Oct. 10.