Roman J. Israel Esq., Denzel Washington, is a savant of sorts who is also a civil rights lawyer that seems lost in the era of the 60’s and 70’s. He still wears a large Afro hairdo, listens to LP records of former artists like Gil Scott Heron and has posters of revolutionaries like Angela Davis on the wall of his apartment.
For a moment, we are not sure if the movie is set in the late 60’s as we watch him eat peanut and butter jelly sandwiches until we are awakened to the real time zone. We say, “Wait. He has a cell phone.” There are definitely some discrepancies.
Roman’s law partner suffers a heart attack, and when we meet his replacement, George Pierce (Colin Farrell) who is dressed as sharp as a tack, we know that Roman Israel is in fact stuck in a time capsule. He still keeps all of his notes on index cards and has been comfortable being the backbone of the firm who works in isolation until everything changes.
Roman is forced to move into the fashionable offices of the new law firm and he soon realizes that he does not fit into the current scene. But more importantly, he discovers that his former partner had been taking kickbacks and his faith in the purity of any operation is called into play.
He continually works diligently for his clients until the inevitable happens. He finds that there is a chance for him to collect $100,000 of reward money if he shares the whereabouts of a shooter in a robbery and murder. He has the information of the fugitive’s whereabouts and makes good on getting a conviction but at severe costs.
Roman gets a brief taste of the good life as he buys some new suits and enjoys a few special outings before his guilt overtakes him and he begins to spiral into paranoia. The jailed shooter threatens his life and others in the firm discover what he has done. His descent down his temporary mountain of living the high life begins and his wholesome conscience gets the best of him.
This movie is quite different in myriad ways. It would make a great conversation piece at holiday dinner tables and parties because it can be discussed from so many points of view. Go see Roman J. Israel, Esq. and see how things turn out for him. Of course, Denzel Washington is superb and Colin Farrell is great as they portray these highly believable characters!
Lynn M. November 25, 2017