NEW FLICKS: The Burial

Courtesy photo by Skip Bolan/Prime Video
BRINGING IN THE BIG GUNS: Hal Dockins (Mamoudou Athie, far left) and Jeremiah O’Keefe (Tommy Lee Jones, far right) try to convince a flashy, high-powered lawyer to join their fight against a corporation taking advantage of O’Keefe’s family mortuary business, in The Burial, streaming on Amazon Prime.

Maggie Betts (The Carrier, Novitiate) directs this dramedy inspired by true events. Tommy Lee Jones stars as Jeremiah O’Keefe, who owns a string of financially struggling Mississippi mortuaries. To meet financial obligations, he agrees to sell a few to Raymond Loewen (Bill Camp) of corporate behemoth the Loewen Group. Despite an oral agreement, Loewen fails to live up to their bargain, and soon O’Keefe is at risk of losing it all and decides he must sue Loewen. He hires slick personal injury lawyer Willie E. Gary (Jamie Foxx), who’s Black, because he doesn’t think his white contracts lawyer, Mike Allred (Alan Ruck), can convince the presumably Black jury.

This remarkable David and Goliath story pits a small businessman against a ruthless corporation, and when Loewen discovers O’Keefe has hired a Black lawyer, he pulls a trick of his own, hiring high-powered Black female lawyer Mame Downes (Jurnee Smollett), which leads to some potent courtroom drama. 

The real hero of the story turns out to be O’Keefe’s junior lawyer, Hal Dockins (Mamoudou Athie), who’s instrumental in discovering some ugly dirt about Loewen and how his businesses treat minority clients. Intense and funny, it’s a strange true story. (126 min.)

—Glen Starkey

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