Directed by Maggie Betts, The Burial follows Jeremiah O’Keefe (Tommy Lee Jones) as he traverses the criminal justice system after a contractual agreement goes south.
O’Keefe runs a handful of funeral homes that have been a part of the family business for years. As business begins to slow, he, with the help of his lawyer Mike (Alan Ruck), seeks out a buyer for a portion of the business to help get his finances stable again. They run into problems after striking a deal with Ray Loewen (Bill Camp) that takes them down a windy path of greed, racism, and injustice.
Jamie Foxx plays the charismatic and boisterous Willie Gary, who hasn’t lost a case in over a decade. The film begins with him speaking at a church and there are many references to Jim Crow and sharecropping. So much so, that it messes with the setting of the film, which is supposed to be 30 or so years ago. But the colors, clothing, and dialogue will have you thinking the film was set in the ’40s.
Gary is a personal injury attorney and has no interest in contract law, but once he hears a proposal from one of O’Keefe’s representatives named Hal (Mamadou Athie), he talks it over with his team. Between Willy, Hal, and Jeremiah’s longtime attorney Mike, they do their best to formulate a plan to prepare what’s awaiting them in court. What they didn’t plan, was the arrival of a feisty, well-credentialed young attorney named Mame Downes (Jurnee Smollett).
Based on actual events, the film does a great job maneuvering through multiple topics: business, racism, greed, and perseverance being just a few. Foxx provides just the amount of humor you would need in a film like this to keep it from sinking into being something heavy. The chemistry onscreen with Tommy Lee Jones was magnificent. Watching their relationship grow throughout the film was quite the treat. Also, the performance from Mamadou Athie was pleasuring to the eye. Don’t be surprised to see his name featured in upcoming projects.
The Burial gets an 8.5 out of 10. Based on real events that took place during the actual life of Willy Gary, you’ll have fun getting to know the attorney, his antics, and of course, the Wings of Justice (Gary’s private plane). While the film is rated-R, it’s solely for language, so outside of that, everyone should be able to enjoy the film. Runtime is just over two hours.
The Burial will stream on Prime Video starting October 13.