Title – Roman J. Israel, Esq. (2017)
Director – Dan Gilroy (Nightcrawler)
Cast – Denzel Washington, Colin Farrell, Carmen Ejogo, Amanda Warren
Plot – Nervy and shy defence attorney Roman J. Israel, Esq. (Washington) has his quiet life turned upside down when he takes on a new role for George Pierce’s (Farrell) large law firm, setting up a chain of events that will change his life forever.
“Each of us is better than the worst thing we ever did”
Review by Eddie on 02/07/2018
Out of all of this year’s Oscar nominations, one particular nomination stood out amongst the rest as one of the more surprising and questionable picks of the whole event; Denzel Washington in the Best Actor category for his turn in Dan Gilroy’s Roman J. Israel, Esq.
In one of the ceremonies most loaded categories, the ever beloved Washington snuck it out of nowhere (likely claiming James Franco’s spot after the actor was swept up in pre-awards controversy) to be a part of the competitors in the field and while his turn in Gilroy’s film is the best thing about Roman, its still a bit of a curiosity that this middle of the road event found itself in amongst the cream of the crop in Hollywood’s night of nights.
Roman J. Israel the character gives Washington a chance to go all nervy, OCD and a bit chaotic as the afro sporting, old-suit wearing defence attorney finds his life routine upturned after his business partner suffers a heart attack, forcing him to seek work at Colin Farrell’s more corporate law firm, leading to a series of events that turn his quiet life upside down.
Israel is an interesting character, one that’s hard to warm to in the typical way as his such a genuinely odd and peculiar creation, but intriguing nonetheless and Washington is as good as you’d expect an actor of his calibre to be in the role and its clear he had a lot of fun bringing Gilroy’s creation to life with the long-time A-lister gaining weight, letting his hair grow out and genuinely taking things to the more extreme as Roman’s life spirals on in a whirlwind of bad decisions and curious friendships.
The biggest problem with Gilroy’s film is that the narrative containing this curious creature isn’t as engaging or smart as it likely thinks it is and while there’s some interesting questions raised about the current state of the law system in America and way in which Roman feels he can help improve it, a lot of the films wannabe big moments and gun-punches never really land killer blows and it’s not hard to see why this dialogue-driven drama failed to ignite with critics or audiences upon its release late last year.
Considering Gilroy’s last film was the brilliant and dazzling Nightcrawler, it’s a shame that his newest venture behind the camera isn’t able to get to the same noteworthy level.
Final Say –
There’s some fine moments in Roman J. Israel, Esq. and a typically solid (if not exactly awards worthy) turn from Washington but this crime drama with a unique premise never quite clicks the way in which we would’ve liked making it a watchable if hardly a must-watch event.
3 U-Haul vans out of 5