In the opening scenes of this fact-based courtroom drama, which is front-loaded with a sentimentality it ultimately doesn’t need, “The Burial” might elicit some skepticism from viewers. That is, it may be a bit of a stretch to root for a Mississippi funeral-home proprietor with eight locations who’s unable to square some poor business decisions.

That funeral-home squire is Jeremiah O’Keefe, played by Tommy Lee Jones, and we meet him at his 75th birthday party in 1995. He had tried to sell a few of his facilities to the slick C.E.O. of a death-care mega-corporation, but when the corporation withholds paperwork, O’Keefe could potentially be squeezed into bankruptcy.

This situation gets a lot more interesting. A young Black lawyer working with O’Keefe enlists another Black lawyer, the very rich and flashy Willie Gary, played by Jamie Foxx, to work on the case. The logic is that the O’Keefe’s lawsuit will play to a mostly Black jury. The American way of death, apparently, did not gain more integrity as it became corporatized, and the exploitations of Big Funeral, it turns out, have an ugly racist angle.

Directed by Maggie Betts from a script she wrote with Doug Wright, “The Burial” develops into a lively courtroom drama with wide-ranging pertinence. Of course its two lead actors give the bravura performances you’d expect from them, but they don’t eat the scenery — they take the material seriously and invest in it with welcome nuance. The supporting cast is also first rate, with Jurnee Smollett percolating with intelligence as Gary’s female counterpart for the defense, and Bill Camp as the villain, doing an underhanded, clever variant on Jack Nicholson’s performance in “A Few Good Men.”

In The Burial, Jamie Foxx plays Willie Gary, a swashbuckling attorney who hates to lose. “I would rather shoot myself and die than lose a case,” he says. For Gary, litigation is a war, and he believes in an all-out approach inside the courtroom. Director Maggie Betts makes Gary’s tall claims believable by giving the character a solid professional reputation — Gary hasn’t lost a case in 12 years, making him a larger-than-life figure in his field.