The Burial is a light-hearted courtroom drama that ends up being more enjoyable than not thanks to one engaging performance and a strong moral center. The subject of death and funeral arrangements is never a comfortable one, but it’s an unfortunate side to life that we often end up paying a good deal for when it’s all said and done. Comfort and peace of mind are huge for families, which makes this “based on a true story” film intriguing and frustrating the more we learn about the funeral and casket business. While this film focuses mostly on contract law, there are lots of real-world emotional situations which work their way into the narrative and even some parallels to the O.J. Simpson trial that was occurring at the same time.
When Jeremiah O’Keefe (Tommy Lee Jones) takes on more debt than he can handle to keep his funeral insurance and multiple funeral homes afloat, he eventually must turn to a larger funeral corporation who offered to help bail him out at a price. After the corporation drags their feet and leaves him at greater risk of losing his business’, Jeremiah seeks out the counsel of eccentric lawyer Willie Gary (Jamie Foxx) in hopes that they can take on this big guy and help keep the family business in the family.
Jamie Foxx is his usual energetic self, breathing life into every room he enters and taking the enjoyment factor of the film up ten-fold just with his presence. Foxx’s ability to balance quick wit with great emotional vulnerability really helps push this story forward. That same vulnerability makes for some heartwarming scenes with Jones’s O’Keefe who cared deeply for his dozens of children and grandchildren. You completely understand why this case means so much to him and why he wanted to continue the legacy of his father’s business.
The Burial is another easy streaming option from Amazon Studios and has more than enough intriguing legal pizzazz to hold your attention. Foxx’s performance anchors the whole film and Tommy Lee Jones keeps the heart of it beating. There’s a poignant family drama that bubbles to the surface a few times, but it unfortunately gets lost in the mix of a racially motivated funeral home conglomerate substory that should have been the focus. If you’re in need of a movie night at home, it’s hard to see this not playing well for most audiences.
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