Review: ‘The Judge’

A justice's public and private lives implode simultaneously when he's embroiled in a political intrigue at the same time his long-lost son surfaces in bland Danish drama "The Judge." Though competently played by a solid cast, drearily executed pic from helmer Gert Fredholm hangs itself with a contrived plot that feels like a TV pilot that failed.

A justice’s public and private lives implode simultaneously when he’s embroiled in a political intrigue at the same time his long-lost son surfaces in bland Danish drama “The Judge.” Though competently played by a solid cast, drearily executed pic from veteran helmer Gert Fredholm (“One Hand Clapping”) hangs itself with a contrived plot that feels like a TV pilot that failed. Sentencing to graveyard slots on Scandie TV looks imminent after a blah domestic bow in November 2005.

Opening reel comes out blazing when Judge Jens Christian (Peter Gantzler) and his colleagues deny asylum to possible war criminal Bliatze (Adrian Arsinevici), who promptly sets himself on fire in the courtroom. Rest of pic is mostly embers as Christian juggles the resulting political aftermath, aggravated by a scheming politician (Sarah Boberg), and the unwanted reemergence of his 15-year-old son Erik (Peter Schroder). Always watchable Nastja Maria Arcel as Christian’s g.f. is underused. Tech package is pro.

The Judge

Denmark - U.K.

Production

A Zentropa Entertainments7 ApS production, in association with the Danish Film Institute, DR TV (Denmark)/Zoma Films (U.K.). (International sales: Trust Film, Copenhagen, Denmark.) Produced by Mikael Olsen. Executive producer, Peter Aalbaek Jensen. Directed by Gert Fredholm. Screenplay, Mikael Olsen, based on an idea by Fredholm and Olsen.

Crew

Camera (color, widescreen), Jorgen Johansson; editor, Molly Malene Stensgaard; music, Michael Price; production designer, Viggo Bentzon. Reviewed at Gothenburg Film Festival (Nordic Light), Feb. 2, 2006. Original title: Dommeren. Danish dialogue. Running time: 88 MIN.

With

Peter Gantzler, Peter Schroder, Micky Skeel Hansen, Benjamin Boe Rasmussen, Nastja Maria Arcel, Adrian Arsinevici, Sarah Boberg, Heidi Holm Katzenelson, Jesper Lohmann, Lars Lunoe.
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