If you're looking for a perfect, heartfelt, underdog movie, then check out The Burial by director Maggie Betts.
An Amazon Prime Video original, The Burial stars Jamie Foxx and Tommy Lee Jones. It is loosely based on the true story of lawyer Willie E. Gary and his client Jeremiah O'Keefe, who brought a lawsuit against the Loewen funeral company in 1995.
So what is it all about, and is it worth watching?
What Is The Burial About?
Jeremiah O'Keefe (Tommy Lee Jones) owns a small chain of funeral homes in South Mississippi, a business that has been in his family for 100 years.
But when he gets into financial trouble and risks losing his insurance license, he agrees to sell some of the funeral homes to Raymond Loewen of the Loewen Group, which owns over 1600 funeral homes across Canada and the US.
With the price agreed and an oral contract in place, O'Keefe can now save his family business, and things are looking good. That is until Loewen doesn't pay up.
His young lawyer, Hal Dockins (Mamoudou Athie), suggests that Loewen is trying to run the clock down, knowing that O‘Keefe doesn't have the money to save his business. If he goes into bankruptcy, Lowwen can sweep up his entire company for pennies.
And so they enlist the help of smooth-talking attorney Willie E. Gary (Jamie Foxx), a personal injury lawyer who hasn't lost a case in 12 years. The unlikely pair bond over their family values and become intent on exposing corporate corruption in the industry.
But first, O'Keefe has to win his case, which is difficult given that it was only a handshake deal and no contract was ever signed.
Can they win? Or will O'Keefe lose everything?
The Burial Official Trailer
Is The Burial Worth Watching?
First off, The Burial is a solid courtroom drama led by Jamie Foxx and Tommy Lee Jones, who really are superb in this movie. From the first line out of his mouth, Foxx has hooked you into the larger-than-life persona of Willie E. Gary, and at no point does he take his foot off the peddle.
That would become almost intolerable if it weren't for the quieter demeanour of Tommy Lee Jones, whose understated performance perfectly balances out the two lead characters.
The story itself is intriguing and becomes far more than just David vs. Goliath as the team uncovers systematic racial injustice that forms the basis for the Loewen Group's business plan. While shocking, it is sadly unsurprising, but it does mean that you root for O'Keefe every step of the way.
It helps that Bill Camp (Loewen) plays the bad guy to perfection. To the extent that even his lawyer can't stand working for him.
So what we end up with in The Burial is a fairly cut-and-dry story of good versus bad, and as with all underdog stories inspired by true events, it makes the whole movie just that little bit sweeter.
Is The Movie Based On A True Story?
Like many movies in the genre, this is ‘loosely based' on a true story. All of the main players are real people. Willie E. Gary is one of the United States’ most respected and accomplished lawyers and one of the richest in the world.
Jeremiah O'Keefe was indeed a war hero who was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 2015, and he did take the Loewen Group to court. Even the court findings are real.
So how much of the movie was made up for dramatic purposes is unknown.
However, Gary and O'Keefe indeed remained close friends until O'Keefe passed away in 2016.
Cast Of The Burial Film
Jamie Foxx (Day Shift) as Willie E. Gary, a charismatic and determined lawyer who hasn't lost a case in 12 years.
Tommy Lee Jones as Jeremiah O'Keefe, a funeral home owner who is on the verge of losing his business, so enlists lawyer Willie Gary to take his case
Jurnee Smollett (Lou) as Mame Downes, lawyer for the defendant, the Loewen Group
Alan Ruck as Mike Allred, O'Keefe's long-time friend and lawyer
Mamoudou Athie as Hal Dockins, O'Keefe's young lawyer and friend of his son who suggests asking Gary for help
Pamela Reed as Annette O'Keefe, Jeremiah's wife
Bill Camp as Raymond Loewen, CEO of the Loewen Group
Amanda Warren as Gloria Gary, Willie's childhood sweetheart and wife
Dorian Missick as Reggie Douglas
Lance E. Nichols as James E. Graves Jr.
Billy Slaughter as Robert Sperry
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