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  • Writer's pictureTierney Deanne

The Burial

Updated: Dec 17, 2023



This is the tale of Jerry O’Keefe, a true story from the early 1990’s that was adapted into a screenplay by Doug Wright and Maggie Betts. O’Keefe is a business owner in Mississippi who falls on hard times. While he looks for a way out, he gets taken advantage of. Mr. O’Keefe isn’t the kind of man that will lay down and take it, instead at 75 years old he decides to fight back.


Jamie Foxx produces the film and plays Willie E. Gary, a fast-talking personal injury lawyer. Gary is shown to immediately captivate the audience’s attention with his powerful speeches, whether he is in congregation, or court.


Tommy Lee Jones plays the part of Jerry O’Keefe. A man who owned eight funeral homes and an insurance business that sold burial insurance. One day, the state insurance regulators came knocking on O’Keefe’s door looking for money that he owes for a recent investment. O’Keefe was in trouble as he did not have the money, so he looked to his lawyer, Mike Allred, played by Alan Ruck (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off). Allred suggests that O’Keefe sell one of his funeral homes to a company based in Canada called Loewen Group. O’Keefe agrees to meet with Ray Loewen, played by Bill Camp (12 Years a Slave), and brings along his sons friend, a fresh faced attorney Hal Dockins, played by Mamoudou Athie (Archive 81). The Loewen Group is quickly taking over the American market of funeral parlors and burial insurance. Jerry agrees to sell Loewen three of his funeral homes as long as Loewen agrees to no longer sell burial insurance in Southern Mississippi. Ray Loewen and Jerry O’Keefe shake hands on the deal and write up a contract. Four months later, however, Ray Loewen has not closed on his end of the deal. He has not paid Mr. O’Keefe and he is still selling burial insurance inSouthern Mississippi. It is clear that Ray Loewen is waiting for O’Keefe to go bankrupt. So, Hal Dockins and Jerry O’Keefe decide to sue the Loewen Group.

O’Keefe’s wife Annette, played by Pamela Reed (Kindergarten Cop), is against suing a big cooperation like the Loewen Group. She instead just wants to settle down and enjoy life with her kids and grandkids. Jerry however insists that he needs to obtain a legacy to pass down to the future generations.

This is where Willie Gary comes in. O’Keefe and Dockins head to Florida to see Gary in action, watching him in court. They meet Gary shortly after and try to convince him to join in taking on the case. Gary has not lost a case in twelve years, and is hesitant to take on a contract dispute. Dockins manages to inspire Gary by the thought of taking down a million dollar company like the Loewen Group. Gary ultimately agrees to join counsel for O’Keefe.


O’Keefe is loyal to his longtime friend and attorney Mike Allred so he feels obligated to make him lead attorney on the case. Allred and Gary immediately get off on a bad note whereneither can agree with the others strategy. There is a fight for control between the two, but O’Keefe is entranced by Gary’s confidence and so he appoints him as lead attorney. Willie Gary is so confident that he sends a bottle of Cristal champagne to the opposing counsel. Jurnee Smollett (Birds of Prey) played the lead attorney, Mame Downes, representing the Loewen Group.


The first day of court we see each person prepare in their own way. The audience gets a first-hand look at just how nervous everyone is on both sides of the case. Even confident Gary won’t risk superstitions.


Gary puts O’Keefe on the stand way too soon, a move which worried all of the co- counsel. O’Keefe is battered by the cross examination. O’Keefe takes this out on Gary and replaces him with Allred. Gary understands this move, he knows he messed up, but this brings him to the realization that he truly cares for O’Keefe and it is no longer about money and ego.


O’Keefe and Gary connect so well because they’re both fighters. Both men are trying to pass on betterment to their families. The audience observes a real friendship form between two unlikely people that end up being more alike than either of them knew.


This movie is a testament for how much a person is willing to fight for what is right.

Available on Amazon Prime Video
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