Onto the next release of the weekend and I don’t say this too often, but Thank God It Is Saturday and the big day has finally arrived. The epic clash between India and Pakistan at the ODI World Cup awaits us and my excitement levels are at its peak! May the best team win but more importantly being a part of this historic event is something that I look forward to. And there is every chance that you would be reading the review while the match might be in progress, but I have a review to finish before the match, with that I finished watching the new English film The Burial which is now streaming on Amazon Prime.
Now every time there is a new legal drama in town, I am often curious to know on what it has to offer. This might be stemmed from the fact that the genre is rarely tapped, but when there are films made in this space, I do get to learn a little about the procedurals as well. With a stellar star cast featuring Jamie Foxx and Tommy Lee Jones, The Burial did promise to be an enjoyable ride, but as always, I really did not know what the film stood for. So then is The Burial worth your time, stay tuned.
Story & Screenplay
Based on a true event and inspired by a column from the New York Times, The Burial follows the story of a court proceedings underway following a deal gone wrong between the protagonist and the opposite party. Will the protagonist emerge on top? Now I have purposely kept the story a little vague but there is a lot to unpack here in a legal drama that might seem pretty routine but is unassumingly brilliant. The layered drama touches upon a very relevant issue while also taking into account the racial discrimination which is still prevalent in current times. The screenplay standing at 130 odd minutes is compelling while unfolding at a leisurely pace. Yet, it also tries to inculcate a little bit of humour to the proceedings while continuing to be tense and riveting at the same time.
The drama does open by introducing the two protagonists in contrasting fashions. While one is a lawyer, having fought several cases for his Black Community, the other is a small time business who takes care of his family business wherein he owns funeral homes under his brand. Both are leading a happy life until the two worlds collide following a business deal gone rogue. The writers take their time in catering to the world-building wherein the racial discrimination angle is showcased almost like an undercurrent. For instance, the character of Jamie Foxx originally refuses to take up the case given that his client was ‘White’. So even the perspectives are drawn out very well.
The proceedings are engaging and engrossing while shepherding at a leisurely pace. There is a little flamboyance and playful integrated in the character of the Attorney that slowly settles down as the case progresses. With every passing minute, the viewers start getting a clearer picture on the things that have transpired behind the scenes, while constantly being given exposure through the lens of the different Attorneys leading the case. The arguments presented along with its set of technicalities are wonderful to witness as I slowly found myself being sucked into the drama. The bond between the two protagonists is beautifully showcased as well. And this is where the relevancy of the drama kicks in when the layers of the case are unraveled.
The drama addresses the issue in a two-fold fashion. While the racial discrimination is established, it also touches upon a searing topic of the class divide that is prevalent. And both these issues are combined while introducing a third layer of ‘death’ in the middle. When a company starts charging a person who is at his lowest while that person is mourning the death of his relative or friend, can be the worst kind of discrimination and capitalism that mankind can ever be exposed to. And it honestly did break my heart while I did watch the events unfold, something that also made me angry. The finale act is kept subtle but because its foundation is so strong, the emotions absolutely hit home! Overall, the screenplay is brilliantly penned and most definitely impactful while not dumbing down the legal technicalities of the drama.
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The dialogues are conversational with several jargons along the way that does add a layer of authenticity to the drama. The BGM is subtle and never really tries to overpower the drama at any juncture. The cinematography is top notch with some wonderful frames that capture the vibe and essence of the drama. The production design is aesthetically brilliant too. The editing is crisp and consistently maintains the tension in the drama. Director Margaret Betts does a splendid job in creating several heartfelt moments while never losing sight of the relevancy of the case. Her balanced approach is what made the drama consistently engaging right throughout.
The performances are excellent here by the ensemble cast. Bill Camp as Ray adds layers of subtlety to his character who isn’t a pleasant personality(character wise) given his antics behind the scenes. His polished approach was a treat to watch. Mamoudou Athie as Hal is earnest and sincere in a wonderful job done. Jurnee Smollett as Mame is assertive and confident in a splendid little performance. And she has an amazing screen presence as well. Alan Ruck as Mike is dependable and does a good job. Tommy Lee Jones as Jeremiah is wonderfully restrained and he delivers a commendable performance. But it is Jamie Foxx as Willie who owns the stage and how! His over-the-top antics are beautifully measured with signs of tenderness in a wonderfully enacted performance. He is just brilliant to watch in a heartfelt role. That final scene of him just staring at the graves did say a thousand words with uttering one! The fan in me will sleep well tonight!
The Burial is a brilliantly rousing legal drama with stupendous performances that makes for a wonderful watch. Available on Amazon Prime and Highly Recommended!