peteg's blog - noise - movies - 2023 10 18 TheBurial

The Burial (2023)

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I'll watch Jamie Foxx do just about anything even though I know that the movie is rarely as good as he is. This one conforms to type. Here he's paired with funeral-home owning Tommy Lee Jones in good-old-Southern-boy mode, aiming for the magic of No Country for Old Men and missing.

This is formulaic, excessively-juiced courtroom stuff in what I take to be the Erin Brockovich mould that Americans are supposed to lap up: the little fellow prevails over the heavily abstracted corporate (Canadian) predator after some fleet-footed legal work. Notionally this is a matter of contract law but of course personal injury lawyer Foxx — so successful he never wears the same suit twice — is obviously going to turn it into a personal injury and the only question is whose. The conclusion is hollow as it's just about money; there's no real sense of a larger set of winners or social change or law reform or whatever despite the terminal textual special pleading.

The script fatally drowns in a sea of racism; the writers know this and try to address it with a series of knowingly clunky scenes in the middle. It flags whenever Foxx is not on the screen. He has a few great moments with (unfortunately characterless) wife Amanda Warren including a very sweet one just before closing arguments. Jurnee Smollett does what she can for the defence. The vibe is that lawyering is going to change the world for the better ... except it doesn’t seem to have. I guess they'll just have to argue the counterfactual, that all of the alternatives are worse.

Glenn Kenny.