Movie Reviews

The Burial Review A Glimpse into a David-and-Goliath Legal Battle

Maggie BettsThe Burial embarks on a journey that illuminates the obscure corners of the American legal system, bringing to life a David-and-Goliath saga that mesmerizes with its audacity and determination. Inspired by the real-life legal battle between lawyer Willie E. Gary and the Loewen funeral company, the film navigates the complexities of justice, morality, and power. While the narrative is captivating and the performances commendable, the film occasionally stumbles, preventing it from reaching the heights of cinematic brilliance.

The Good:

The Burial (2023).

The Burial, set in 1995, plunges viewers into the world of Willie E. Gary, portrayed with charisma and conviction by Jamie Foxx. Gary, an unconventional personal injury lawyer, embarks on an ambitious crusade to help Jeremiah Joseph O’Keefe (Tommy Lee Jones), a financially beleaguered funeral home owner. Their adversary? The Loewen Group, a colossal funeral home company. The heart of the story lies in the courtroom, where Gary and his team, including the spirited Mame Downes (Jurnee Smollett), the earnest Hal Dockins (Mamoudou Athie), and the seasoned Raymond Loewen (Bill Camp), clash in a battle that would redefine legal history.

The film delves deep into the intricacies of the legal process, providing an immersive experience for enthusiasts of courtroom drama. The tension inside the courtroom is palpable, capturing the essence of high-stakes litigation. Jamie Foxx’s portrayal of Willie E. Gary is electrifying, capturing the lawyer’s unyielding determination and unorthodox methods. Foxx embodies Gary’s larger-than-life persona, infusing the character with both charm and intensity.

Tommy Lee Jones, in his role as Jeremiah Joseph O’Keefe, delivers a poignant performance, portraying O’Keefe’s vulnerability and resilience with nuance. His chemistry with Foxx lends emotional depth to the film, making the audience invest deeply in their uphill battle. Jurnee Smollett shines as Mame Downes, bringing a fierce, feminist energy to the narrative. Her character’s unwavering support for O’Keefe and Gary adds layers to the film, offering a refreshing perspective on the traditionally male-dominated legal arena.

Mamoudou Athie’s portrayal of Hal Dockins, a young lawyer navigating the complexities of the case, is compelling. Athie captures Hal’s growth and transformation, embodying the struggles and triumphs of a novice attorney thrust into the midst of a high-stakes legal battle. Bill Camp, as Raymond Loewen, exudes a calculated menace, portraying the epitome of corporate greed and arrogance. Camp’s performance adds a chilling dimension to the film, making the audience despise Loewen while marveling at his cunning tactics.

One of the film’s notable strengths lies in its meticulous attention to detail. The 1990s setting is impeccably recreated, from the fashion choices to the technological limitations of the era, immersing the audience in a bygone time. The cinematography, too, is commendable, capturing the raw emotions of the characters and the grandiosity of the courtroom proceedings. The director, Maggie Betts, deserves praise for her ability to balance the film’s visual elements, creating a visually engaging experience.

The Bad:

The Burial (2023).

However, The Burial is not without its flaws. The film occasionally succumbs to clichés, relying on predictable plot twists and overly dramatic moments that detract from its authenticity. While the courtroom scenes are riveting, some of the character developments feel rushed, leaving certain relationships and motivations underexplored. The film’s pacing, particularly in the second act, falters, leading to moments of stagnation that hinder the overall momentum of the narrative.

Additionally, the film’s attempt to tackle themes of morality, justice, and the corrupting influence of corporate power sometimes feels heavy-handed. The dialogue, at times, veers into preachiness, diluting the impact of the underlying messages. A subtler approach to these themes could have elevated the film’s emotional resonance, allowing the audience to reflect on the nuances of the legal battle and its ethical implications.


The Burial stands as a captivating exploration of a real-life legal saga that shook the foundations of the American legal system. Jamie Foxx and Tommy Lee Jones deliver stellar performances, anchoring the film with their magnetic presence. The supporting cast, too, contributes significantly to the film’s appeal, creating a tapestry of characters that resonate with authenticity.

The Burial Review A Glimpse into a David-and-Goliath Legal Battle
  • Acting - 8/10
  • Cinematography/Visual Effects - 7/10
  • Plot/Screenplay - 7/10
  • Setting/Theme - 6.5/10
  • Watchability - 7/10
  • Rewatchability - 6.5/10
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