After releasing the highly entertaining thriller Nightcrawler, Dan Gilroy came back to direct and write another great film. Now that he made one phenomenal movie, he can bring his cinematic magic again in Roman J. Israel, Esq., right? And believe it or not, Gilroy proves he’s a filmmaker to look out for. The film stars a talented cast of actors such as the amazingly talented Denzel Washington, Colin Farrell (Seven Psychopaths) and Carmen Ejogo (It Comes at Night).
Denzel Washington stars as the lead and titular character Roman J. Israel, Esq., a struggling lawyer who wants to make a name for himself and joins George Pierre’s (Farrell) firm. He really is a nice guy on the inside who wants to help the poor and depressed of Los Angeles. In the beginning, he’s at his lowest low in life and wants to prove he has what it takes to be an inspiring lawyer. But as the story goes on, a lot of events are happening in his life that heavily affect him as a person.
From start to finish, Washington carries the movie with a terrific performance. This is undeniably one of the best performances of his career. Fun fact: Gilroy always had this actor in mind to play Roman. If he didn’t accept to play the character, the director said he wouldn’t have done the film. Thank god he decided to do it. Washington has an impressive filmography for starring in films such as Malcolm X, Philadelphia,The Hurricane and American Gangster. Now he can add Roman J. Israel, Esq. onto his list. When he speaks, it feels like ad lib. Not only is his character interesting but you feel bad for him. Even if he’s down on his luck, he still tries to stay positive which makes him so likeable and relatable as a character.
The beginning immediately sets the overall mood of the film thanks to Dan Gilroy’s script. Like Nightcrawler, the director is able to grab the audience’s attention with his writing. He shows how dialogue is able to carry a film in a proper way without relying too much on exposition. Every time the characters start talking, you get invested in them. While the film is only 2 hours and 9 minutes, some scenes are kind of slow. Apparently after premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival, the film was re-edited to take out twelves minutes of its runtime. The first act does a great job introducing Roman’s life to the audience as a lawyer who’s down on his luck. The second act isn’t as strong as the beginning, but the third act really showcases Roman’s personal crisis.
While the movie has some pacing issues, it doesn’t change the fact Roman J. Israel, Esq. is a terrific character-driven story with Denzel Washington as the lead role. Dan Gilroy proves why he’s an intriguing and amazingly talented filmmaker with a great script and characters. The film isn’t as excellent as Nightcrawler, but Denzel Washington’s performance makes this movie so memorable and worth watching.
Roman J. Israel, Esq. is now playing in theatres.