The Opening Night slot at the Toronto International Film Festival carries certain weight. It guarantees that the eyes skimming a very crowded field fall squarely on you and your movie, at least for a few hours. Some movies rise to the occasion (like Rian Johnson’s Looper, for example). Others wilt in the spotlight (like last year’s The Fifth Estate).

Judging by reactions, David Dobkin’s The Judge falls right in the middle. It generated both praise and mild scorn, but justified its presence with mega-wattage star power provided by the movie’s leads, Robert Downey Jr. and Robert Duvall. The former showed off his social media skills by taking fans through his red-carpet prep, via Twitter.


He dropped one photo before the red carpet outside of Toronto’s Roy Thomson Hall.


And then onto the carpet, where he had to do countless interviews:


And, finally, he took us into the post Judge party. The life of a rock-star movie actor.

But what about the movie? The Judge stars Robert Downey Jr. as a successful attorney who must travel home to defend his father (Duvall), a judge, in an increasingly twisted murder case. I tried to make it into one of the press screenings here in TIFF, but scheduling snafus and last-minute changes on the Toronto schedule made it difficult to get to The Judge. (The film’s 142-minute run time made it a daunting selection in the middle of any press day.) Indie Wire calls Dobkin’s film "a cinematic misdemeanor, a movie that wants to wear the robes and bang the gavel, but barely earns the right to take the stand." Variety notes that it’s refreshing to see Downey outside of the Iron Man suit, and that the film is "just about held together by the ferocious onscreen chemistry between two Roberts."

The Judge kicked off this year’s Toronto International Film Festival, and opens in theaters on October 10.

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