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Roman J. Israel, Esq.

Lawyer and activist Roman Israel has been working as the man behind the curtain in an office for decades. When his partner dies, he has to reorient himself, but stubborn, finicky Roman J. Israel is not very good with people.


Director-screenwriter Dan Gilroy has created one of the most interesting figures of the past year with Roman J. Israel. The black lawyer and activist has worked as the man behind the curtains in an office for decades. He prepares the cases meticulously and then his partner takes over and and presents it in court. When Roman‘s partner dies and the practice is is meant to close, Roman has to reorient himself, but the stubborn, fastidious Roman J. Israel is not good with people. Denzel Washington plays the lawyer wearing oversized tweed jackets with antique sweater vests underneath and very wide trousers. Mr. Israel doesn‘t care about his clothes, but film does. You could watch Denzel Washington for hours as he discusses NGOS with his hanging shoulders, an old school afro, and a walk that‘s somewhere between a hipster shuffle and an unkempt scuffle, colliding with people when his private codes from the 70s clash with the gender activists of today. But the film decides to incorporate a goofy twist that doesn‘t fit with Roman J. Israel, Esquire. The politically engaged Roman suddenly wants to make it big, buys a designer suit, smooths out his hair, and he does something ethically dubious as if the film. It is a wasted opportunity since Denzel Washington is absolutely fantastic and the direction is also smart, with nice quotes from new Hollywood and classic black independent cinema. It‘s just the screenplay feels as though a script doctor overdid it. Roman J. Israel would be a good character for a TV show that would last at least 7 seasons.


Translation: Elinor Lewy


USA 2018, 129 min
Genre: Drama, Crime Drama
Director: Dan Gilroy
Author: Dan Gilroy
DOP: Robert Elswit
Montage: John Gilroy
Music: James Newton Howard
Distributor: Sony Pictures
Cast: Denzel Washington, Nazneen Contractor, Colin Farrell, Carmen Ejogo
FSK: 6
Release: 19.04.2018




  • OV Original version
  • OmU Original with German subtitles
  • OmeU Original with English subtitles
English/with English subtitles
All languages

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