Image by Variety

A courtroom drama worth your time and one of Jamie Foxx’s best performances since Ray.

I was afforded an opportunity to see “The Burial” on the HBCU campus of the University of District of Columbia.  UDC was hosting the HBCU Pre Law Summit, where pre-law students were attending seminars and meeting with law schools from across the Nation.  As a part of the summit, Amazon screened a film about a very successful black attorney that you may not have heard of named Willie Gary.

In the film, Jamie Foxx plays Gary, a gregarious ambulance chasing personal injury lawyer, whose specialty was getting big settlements for his clients by wooing black juries. While  Jeremiah O’Keefe, a funeral home owner, seeks out Gary’s assistance in a lawsuit against a big corporation.

O’Keefe is played by veteran actor Tommy Lee Jones, whom you may know from Men In Black, The Fugitive and US Marshals. The film centers around the recruitment of Gary to represent O’Keefe in his lawsuit against a large corporate entity that he did business with, and then the case itself.  

Moreover, the bulk of the fun of this film is that it has a southern hospitality, as Gary has a southern charm as a Florida native, and O’Keefe being from the South as well, and the lawsuit was staged in North Carolina in front of a mostly black jury.  

Foxx and Tommy Lee Jones have a great chemistry together which makes the movie hum along. And, Foxx and Jurnee Smollett, who plays his opposing counsel, also have an easy breezy if not adversarial relationship.

Image by Rob Warren

While the case is about O’Keefe coming into financial trouble and trying to save his funeral home business and maintain his burial insurance license.  A large corporate funeral home company offers to buy some of O’Keefe’s funeral homes so that he could use the money to stave off bankruptcy and be able to maintain his licensure.   Then the deal goes left, I won’t spoil exactly how you’ll need to see the movie to get all those details.

Furthermore, the film takes place in the mid 1990’s and some of it even overlaps the OJ Simpson murder case which is a major flash point in legal history as a hugely followed case was helmed by Johnny Cochran a legal hero to many who guided a dream team of lawyers to keep OJ out of jail.  For a little while anyway. (We kind of know what happened after that.)   

So, if you like courtroom dramas, you’ll love this film.  This movie has civil rights references, and touches issues of race but not like it’s a slave film, where it’s like watching torture porn of black people being mistreated.  It’s just enough to make you upset, but it’s a feel good film that will make you laugh a lot as did the crowd full of America’s future black attorneys on the night of the screening.

Last, The Burial is worth your time whether you see it in its 1st week movie theater release, October 6th, or you can wait until its streaming release on Amazon Prime October 13th.

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