Downey Jr., Duvall kick off Toronto film fest with 'The Judge'

Fri Sep 5, 2014 12:39am EDT
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By Mary Milliken

TORONTO (Reuters) - Actors Robert Downey Jr. and Robert Duvall brought their father-and-son dysfunction drama "The Judge" to Toronto on Thursday to open the city's film festival, an early arbiter in the movie industry's awards season.

Toronto's opening gala gives a note of Hollywood glamour to a festival known for its sprawling program - 285 films screened multiple times over 11 days - and the participation of ordinary people, who ultimately decide the top prize.

On the red carpet before "The Judge" premiere in downtown Toronto, Downey Jr., best known for his superhero role in the "Iron Man" movies, said the kick-off slot was an honor.

"I like the idea too, like if you have the first dance at a wedding, you really want to whip it up, you want to get the floor hot and sticky and I'm hoping that 'The Judge' will do that," Downey Jr. said.

In "The Judge," a Warner Bros. film directed by David Dobkin, Downey Jr. is hot-shot Chicago lawyer Hank Palmer who returns to his small Indiana hometown to face estranged father Joseph, played by Duvall, who is a revered judge charged in a murder.

Hank and Joseph not only have to heal wounds, they have to come to terms with Joseph's need for his son, both for his legal defense and his failing health.

"These movies don't really get made any more," said Dobkin. "I grew up loving 'Kramer vs. Kramer' and 'Terms of Endearment' and 'The Verdict'."

Variety chief film critic Justin Chang said Downey Jr. and Duvall have "ferocious onscreen chemistry."   Continued...

Cast member and executive producer Robert Downey Jr. (L) and his wife, producer Susan Downey pose as they arrive at the gala for the film "The Judge" at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) in Toronto, September 4, 2014. REUTERS/Mark Blinch