Image

6:14 AM / Sunday November 27, 2022

16 Nov 2017

Denzel delivers Oscar-quality performance as attorney with Asperger’s in “Roman J. Israel, Esq.”

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
November 16, 2017 Category: Entertainment Posted by:

ABOVE PHOTO:  Denzel Washington stars in Columbia Pictures’ “Roman J. Israel Esq.”

 

Film Review by Kam Williams

Roman J. Israel (Denzel Washington) is a high-functioning savant on the autism spectrum who has been practicing law in L.A. for the past 36 years. The brilliant attorney has spent most of his career under the radar, writing legal briefs in a rear office for indigent criminal defendants, while his partner, William Henry Jackson, served as the face of the firm, whether cultivating clients or arguing their cases in the courtroom.

This unorthodox arrangement worked well for Roman who, besides his disorder, is a longtime political activist dedicated to a progressive agenda, namely, to assist downtrodden individuals unfairly ensnared in the net of the prison-industrial complex. And because of that commitment, he’s been willing to work for far less pay than colleagues of his caliber. Consequently, the highly-principled lawyer has had to scrape by on a modest salary, living in the same dive for decades, where he subsisted on a steady diet of peanut butter sandwiches and jazz classics played on an old-fashioned turntable.

Everything changes the day William Jackson suffers a heart attack and the two-person firm is forced to dissolve. Roman first applies for a position with a public interest non-profit that shares his values. But when the empathetic director (Carmen Ejogo) explains that she doesn’t have the money to hire an attorney, he resigns himself to joining a corporate firm where he’s soon teamed with a young associate (Colin Farrell) interested only in maximizing profits.

This leaves Roman sitting on the horns of an ethical dilemma. Should he abandon his morals to keep a roof over his head? That is the question at the center of “Roman J. Israel, Esq.,” a compelling character portrait written and directed by Oscar-nominee Dan Gilroy (for “Nightcrawler”).

The legendary Denzel Washington is quite convincing as well as moving, here, as a beleaguered soul afflicted with Asperger’s syndrome. His powerful performance might very well be remembered at Oscar time, given the Academy’s recent history of rewarding thespians playing impaired characters, including Eddie Redmayne (2014) for wheelchair-bound Stephen Hawking (ALS); Colin Firth (2010) for stuttering King George VI; Geoffrey Rush (1996) for mentally-ill David Helfgott; Tom Hanks (1994) for dimwitted Forrest Gump; Tom Hanks (1993) for AIDS patient Andrew Beckett; Daniel Day-Lewis (1989) for cerebral palsy victim Christy Brown; and Dustin Hoffman (1988) for mathematics savant in “Rain Man”.

Win, lose or draw, Roman J. Israel, Esq. deserves accolades aplenty in its own right for its touching treatment of such a sensitive subject.

Excellent (4 stars)

Rated PG-13 for violence and profanity

Running time: 129 minutes

Production Studio: Bron Creative / Cross Creek Pictures / Escape Artists / FZ /Macro

Distributor: Columbia Pictures

To see a trailer for Roman J. Israel, Esq., visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CItEtnp3nPY

  • Facebook
  • Twitter

Leave a Comment

Recent News

Local

Lots of love and laughter as friends, family and loved ones gather at Positano Coast to celebrate Leah Fletcher

November 24, 2022

Tweet Share Pin Email Looking in retrospect. Celebrating Leah Fletcher By Monica Peters Sixty persons from near...

Stateside

Mexico prosecutors issue arrest warrant, want U.S. suspect extradited to Mexico in death of Shanquella Robinson

November 25, 2022

Tweet Share Pin Email CABO SAN LUCAS, Mexico (AP/SUN) — Mexican prosecutors have filed charges against a...

Week In Review

Biden admin to ask high court to take up student debt plan

November 24, 2022

Tweet Share Pin Email ABOVE PHOTO: Light illuminates part of the Supreme Court building on Capitol Hill...

Politics

Georgia runoff: Why one Senate seat is crucial for Democrats

November 24, 2022

Tweet Share Pin Email ABOVE PHOTO: This combination of photos shows, Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., speaking to...

Health

How to shop for the right Medicare plan and avoid costly mistakes

November 24, 2022

Tweet Share Pin Email BPT Inflation is putting the squeeze on all Americans, but no one is...

Color Of Money

Top financial to-dos to end the year strong and prepare for 2023

November 24, 2022

Tweet Share Pin Email BPT  The holidays are a time full of good cheer, but not necessarily...

The Philadelphia Sunday Sun Staff