THE BURIAL – A Review by John Strange

THE BURIAL – A Review by John Strange

A man works his whole life to build something to pass on to his children and grandchildren.  He is very proud of his accomplishments, eight funeral homes, and a burial insurance agency.  But then one day he is visited by a pair of state insurance examiners.  He has a problem, insufficient funds to cover the policies he has sold.  He is threatened with loss of the license to sell insurance, his biggest revenue source.

Jeremiah O’Keefe (Tommy Lee Jones) turns to his friend and lawyer, Mike Allred (Alan Ruck) for assistance.  Allred suggests selling a few funeral homes to give O’Keefe sufficient funds to bail him out of trouble. 

Thus begins a journey through a nightmare for Jeremiah.  The meeting with corporate magnate, Ray Loewen (Bill Camp), aboard his luxury yacht should have given the sellers a pause but they were desperate, and they grasped at a possible salvation.

Corporate greed versus small business is the heart of this story.  Modified by the wildcard, Willie E. Gary (Jamie Foxx), a slick personal injury attorney who had never tried to take a contracts case in his life.  But in my mind, the true wildcard in the film was Jeremiah’s friend, young newly minted lawyer Hal Dockins (Mamoudou Athie).

The court battle is engrossing but, to me, the true story revolves more around the two families involved in the battle on the side of “right” than the court battle.  O’Keefe and Gary find there are a lot of similarities in their lives.  Different paths to happiness and yet they are similar in so many ways.  This finds the two very different families becoming fast friends as we watch.

The film is a docudrama based on the true story of Jeremiah O’Keefe’s battle to save his company and his legacy in the mid-90s.  The Burial is an excellent watch.  I found myself engrossed from the very first scene.  Check it out on Amazon Prime!

One note: Mamoudou Athie grabbed his character and brought it to life.  He is an actor who will go a long way if he can get more roles like this one.


Director: Maggie Betts

Cast: Tommy Lee Jones, Jamie Foxx, Jurnee Smollett, Mamoudou Athie, Pamela Reed, Bill Camp, Alan Ruck

MPAA Rating: R (for language)

Selig Rating: 5 Stars

Runtime: 126 Min.

Release Date: 10/13/2023 on Amazon Prime Video (Limited theaters – 10/6/2023)

Language: English

Trailer: THE BURIAL Official Trailer


The Selig Rating Scale:

5 Stars – Excellent movie/show, well worth the time and price.

4 Stars – Good movie/show

3 Stars – OK movie/show

2 Stars – Well, there was nothing else…

1 Star – Total waste of time.

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