“Roman J. Israel, Esq.”

A Look at the Movies

CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – I’ve never seen Denzel Washington give a more intense performance than he delivers in “Roman J. Israel, Esq.” It’s quite a character study of a man living on the edge.

He plays an idealistic civil rights attorney who is too eccentric and too rigid for his own good. He’s a man living in the past, on the edge. His legal expertise is no longer appreciated. He’s about to be fired from the firm where he’s devoted the best years of his life.

Unfortunately, the melodramatic storyline can’t keep pace with Washington’s electric performance. He’s a desperate man on a downward spiral, and desperate men make the wrong choices, and desperate lawyers get involved with all the wrong clients.

As committed to the law as he is, Washington just can’t grasp the enormity of the consequences ahead. “Roman J. Israel, Esq.” plays like an overheated Shakespearean tragedy, if that’s the mood you crave in a holiday movie.

But Denzel Washington’s acting is so overpowering, he compensates for the mediocre storyline. It takes a marvelous actor to rise head and shoulders above his material. For Denzel Washington’s memorable performance, “Roman J. Israel Esq.” wins a judgment of 3 stars. Only you can make that verdict unanimous….

Rated PG-13

1 hour 50 minutes

Denzel Washington, Colin Farrell, Carmen Ejogo