Denzel Washington Soars As "Roman J. Israel, Esq."

Denzel Washington in “Roman J. Israel, Esq.”
Denzel Washington in “Roman J. Israel, Esq.”

Movie Review - Jackie K Cooper

“Roman J. Israel, Esq.” (Sony)

“Roman J. Israel, Esq.” is a really good movie because of its script, direction and attention to detail. “Roman J. Israel. Esq.” is one of the year's best films because of the performance of Denzel Washington. He is the star of the film and is so immersed in his character that audiences will go wherever he takes them.

Washington makes Dan Gilroy's script richer by the way the words come out of his mouth, and he makes Dan Gilroy's direction near perfect in the way he controls every situation of the story. “Roman J. Israel, Esq.” is a movie that will need word of mouth and a few awards in order to find its audience, but it should have no trouble gaining both.

Roman J. Israel (Washington) is an attorney in a small firm where he does the background work but stays out of the public eye. When the senior partner has a heart attack Israel must take over a bunch of court appearances. Court is not a place where he is comfortable and he finds at times he is more of a detriment to his clients than he is an aid.

Roman's problem is that he is borderline obsessive/compulsive; his gift is that he possesses an eidetic memory Plus he likes routine and foregoes most creature comforts. Still one day he decides he is going to burst out of the routine of his life. In order to do this he makes a grave mistake; a mistake that haunts him through the film.

When I first started viewing the movie I was saying to myself, who does Roman J Israel look like? The answer quickly came to me – Eddie Murphy as Sherman Klump in “The Nutty Professor.” I know it was not intentional but there is a stark resemblance there. But Klump or no Klump, this is one of Denzel Washington's best performances. He never breaks character for a second throughout the movie. His look, his actions, his gestures, his mannerisms are all pure Roman J Israel.

To his credit, Colin Farrell does manage to make his presence known as George Pierce, the attorney who hires Roman after his law firm folds. Pierce is the glossy, shiny image of a successful young attorney – but one with heart. His conscience may be stuffed down inside his soul but it is there.

Also aiding the film in the acting category is Carmen Ejogo as Maya, an activist Roman meets. Their few scenes together help give the movie its heart. You don't get many glimpses of Maya in the film but you are always aware of her presence in the story.

The movie is rated PG-13 for profanity and violence.

Even with the solid performances from Farrell and Ejogo, “Roman J. Israel, Esq.” is still basically a one man show. When the actor who is the one man is Denzel Washington that can be and is a good thing. His magnificent talent is the wind beneath the wings of Dan Gilroy's engrossing script, and as Roman J. Israel he makes this film soar.

I scored “Roman J. Israel, Esq” a formal 8 out of 10.

Jackie K Cooper -

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