The Judge


So scarlettwittch on tumblr informed me that the movie The Judge had canon uncle/niece incest in it, and I am eternally grateful. Because it sure did, and it was delightful. I also have to say that I really enjoyed the movie a lot.

I know this isn’t brother/sister. In fact, I’d basically totally forgotten that this blog was supposed to be brother/sister only, because my tumblr isn’t restricted to brother/sister.  I am very sorry!

Robert Downey Jr. plays Hank Palmer, a successful city lawyer who returns to his Indiana hometown (for the first time in 20+ years?) when his mother dies. While he’s there, his father is arrested for murder, and so Hank extends his stay and takes up his father’s defense.



tj (1)He has become estranged from his family – including his two brothers Glen and Dale – and a lot of the movie is about him reconnecting with them, his hometown (which he has developed a lot of contempt for), and his high school girlfriend Sam (played by Vera Farmiga!).



Not long after Hank arrives in town, he and his brothers go out for drinks at a bar, and Hank finds the young bartender Carla (played by Leighton Meester) to be VERY attractive.

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(He’s ogling her the second she walks in. At first he’s just like “Whoa, look at her, this girl is really something.” And then it’s more like. “I’d like some of that.”)

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She feels the same way, especially after he out-talks some guys making trouble.

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They flirt a little and then make out.

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Some time later Hank learns that Carla is the daughter of his ex-girlfriend Sam. That’s awkward enough, BUT IT GETS BETTER, as you well know.

Hank has a young daughter, Lauren. (He’s in the middle of divorce.) And she flies out to visit him. While she’s speaking to him she chews on a lock of her hair, something Hank had noticed Carla doing in an earlier scene.

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This gets his mind reeling,

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and he does the math and figures out that he could be Carla’s father.

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Sam is reluctant to talk about it at first,

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but eventually reveals that Glen, Hank’s brother, is actually Carla’s father.

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So that, of course, makes Carla Hank’s niece. (It’s never totally clear why Sam didn’t tell Glen that he had a daughter, especially since he never left town. By the time the story takes place, Glen is married and has two sons, so it does make sense that she didn’t decide to let the truth out when Carla was older.)

judge19There are never any ramifications to what happens or what Hank finds out. He never tells Sam what happened between him and Carla (he’s about to as you can above, as a point of force to get her to tell him whether he is Carla’s father or not, but never finishes the sentence because Sam interrupts him with the truth). He never has a scene with Carla after he suspects they might be related let alone after he knows for sure. It doesn’t appear that he ever tells Glen or Carla what he learns from Sam. The final scenes take place the day of Hank’s father’s funeral, several months after the main action of the movie. Sam invites Hank to come over to her place, but that’s about all we get. (You can see Carla standing in the background at the funeral, at least I’m pretty sure it’s her. It’s kind of interesting that she’s there, except the movie never shows us that she’s there, I just spotted her. I think. I wonder if there’s a deleted scene or something.) Presumably Hank and Sam are ending up together, and in these sorts of situations, when there is no resolution shown, I think we’re supposed to just assume that everything ended in the best possible way.

What’s interesting here is that if the best possible way is for no one to learn the truth, then Carla has no idea that Hank is her uncle. She’ll probably continue to flirt with him, none the wiser. It didn’t seem like Sam ever planned on telling Carla who her father is. But I hope Sam decides to tell Carla and Glen. I mean, I can’t imagine Hank having to keep that kind of secret from his own brother, and from Carla, especially given what happened between them.

Hank and Carla only have two scenes together: the scene at the bar,

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and the scene where Sam picks Hank up off the side of the road, and Carla is in the car with her. I think I might even like the second scene better.

(Which is saying a lot.)

Carla and Hank are both surprised to see each other. Hank has no idea that Sam has a daughter, and Carla has heard about Sam’s high school boyfriend Hank but of course didn’t know this was her mother’s Hank.

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Hank actually looks amused before Carla does,

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but then he’s very concerned about Sam finding out, while Carla has her fun mercilessly toying with him. She’s extremely flirty in this scene, even though she (probably) knows that her mother is still a little hung-up on this guy. I felt like there was just as much sexual tension in this scene as the earlier one at the bar.

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Also in this scene, Hank finds out that Carla is at Georgetown studying law.

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(She’s basically following in Hank’s footsteps – leaving Carlinville to go to a good school and then becoming a lawyer). During the conversation, Carla says, “Are you ever in Washington, Mr. Palmer?” Like she’d like to see him and hook up when she’s back at school. He says, “Never”, although I’m sure that’s a lie. He’s trying to shut her down because she’s playing a dangerous game with Sam right there in the car. Sam finds their interactions a little strange but never suspects the truth, only that they’ve met before. I like their dynamic in this scene so much – Carla is teasing and playful and Hank is rigid and nervous.

There are a couple of other things I wanted to discuss: I really love that Hank began wondering if Carla was his daughter because he saw her do something that his own daughter did. Even though she was only his niece in the end, it emphasized their biological relationship. And it’s also pretty hilarious that she’s the daughter of his ex-girlfriend (maybe to be his girlfriend again? Or even his wife?). Niece and step-daughter and ex-makeout-partner.

Also: RDJ and Leighton Meester!!!! Two extremely attractive people, which made this even better. They have a lot of the same coloring so they even look related a little (while Sam has blonde hair). Which I really liked.

In the scene when they flirt in the bar, Carla asked Hank to make some guesses about her based on what he sees,

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and one of the things he says is “incestry gene pool”. He has such thoughts about incest that he makes up a new word! Of course that line is so delightfully ironic, because then when he makes out with her it is incest, and if he’s saying that about her ancestry, he could very well be talking about his own. Also, it’s not used as an insult, exactly, which was interesting. She doesn’t act offended. (It’d probably be a good thing if incest didn’t bother her too much, lol.) And, obviously this is a huge stretch, but why was he thinking of incest? Maybe a part of him recognized that he was related to her? It’s a nice headcanon.

Also I think it’s hilarious that Glen is right there in the bar while Hank and Carla are making out. Not watching, exactly, but seeing it. Frowning.

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Oh, and when they all leave the bar, Dale, the other brother says to Hank, “You smell like her. She smells nice.” (All the uncles want in on the action.) And then he asks, “What is that?” and Glen says, “It’s Play-Doh. That’s what that is.” He’s an objecting father without even knowing it!

About shipcestuous
This entry was posted in Family dramas, Films With Incest, Movies and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Judge

  1. essie says:

    i freaking LOVED this aspect of the movie. RDJ was amazing as a much older, but lightning quick sexy confident guy who immediately catches LM’s interest. I wish we’d seen more of their making out…my only wish now is for someone to write a fic where Hank and Carla meet up in DC (maybe because Sam begs him to – in this fic Hank and Sam wouldn’t be together), and then maybe they have a few drinks, tensions escalate, andthentheyenduphavinglotsofhotsex lol

    • shipcestuous says:

      It was such a delightful surprise to find that in there. Even though RDJ’s character was older, it was totally believable that Leighton Meester’s character would be attracted to him.

      You should write that fic because it sounds amazing!!!! I can’t think of anything better.

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