“Roman J. Israel, Esq.” stars Denzel Washington, Colin Farrell, Carmen Ejogo, Nazneen Contractor, Joseph David-Jones, Andrew T. Lee, and Shelley Hennig. Released on November 17, 2017, the film is about a lawyer who works with a large law firm after his partner has a heart attack.
The film is directed by Dan Gilroy, who is known for writing and directing Nightcrawler. Before I start, I just want to say that I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving and a safe Black Friday. Now that we got through with our hefty food and our special quality time with the family and loved ones, how about some good old Denzel Washington? Washington’s last film, Fences, landed him in the awards race last year, and he’s planning on doing it again this year with the latest project from writer/director Dan Gilroy.
Starting off with the good, the film is nicely shot and the performances were pretty entertaining. Denzel Washington offered one of the most intriguing performances in his career as the title character. His character is a socially-awkward person whose actions as a lawyer affect his life as well as his career. Colin Farrell was also good as George Pierce, but nothing too groundbreaking. Aside from that, the film had potential to be as good as Gilroy’s last directorial effort, Nightcrawler, but as soon as the second act commenced, it started going downhill from here. I managed to take my mother to see it with me, and let me tell you, we had a difficult time figuring out the main goal of the story. I can understand what it’s trying to do, but with the amount of complexity and underwhelming moments filling in the plot, it makes the entire thing feel unappreciated and pointless. Not to mention that there were a couple of scenes that dragged a little bit, especially during the second and third acts. It’s ok to have a complex story every once in a while, but there has to be some sort of limit so you don’t wind up confusing the audience.
Overall, “Roman J. Israel, Esq.” is one of those times where relying on the main star’s magnetic performance instead of both the star and the substance can lead to trouble. Washington’s performance is one of the main highlights that I enjoyed, but due to its underwhelming and pointless plot and its overuse of complexity, the film finds itself guilty. An unfortunate effort from one of my favorite actors and the talented screenwriter who directed one of my favorite films of 2014. I know that I should be talking more about this film, but like I said, my mother and I were having a really hard time digging deeper into it, and she loves Denzel. So…let’s just call this review a brief moment of your time.