|The Frankfurt-Tipp rating:|
|Original title:||Roman J. Israel, Esq.|
|Production country:||USA 2018|
|Running time:||Ca. 123 Min|
|Rated:||From 6 years|
For many years Roman J. Israel (Denzel Washington) worked in a small law firm in the background, doing important paperwork and preparing cases. He's never even tried in court before. But when his partner falls seriously ill and the law firm has to be abandoned, the inconspicuous novel takes on a new job at a large law firm. And his new boss, the ambitious lawyer Georg Pierce (Colin Farrell), immediately throws Roman in the deep end and uses him in court. This is where the idiosyncratic novel quickly gets off on the wrong foot and his job soon stands on shaky legs. But then Roman gets information that puts his moral conscience to the acid test - and suddenly his simple life so far runs completely out of control…
"Roman J. Israel, Esq" is the long-awaited successor to Dan Gilroy's acclaimed directorial debut "Nightcrawler". Again, Gilroy has created an extremely interesting protagonist, who is allowed to act in a very interesting story. The problem is only in this case the script of all things. Here the award-winning screenwriter Gilroy has tried to get too much under one hat. The result feels like a somewhat sloppy patchwork work, where individual elements are great, but the cohesion doesn't really work.
The criticism of the US justice system is an extremely exciting topic and the fact that a small lawyer is trying to revolutionize it from the background is a really good idea. The scene in which Roman, as an idealist of the old school, gets into a clinch with young people who are frustrated by reality, is also extremely strong, since one can somehow understand both sides. But it's simply not believable that Roman, through experiences like this, throws all his basic moral principles overboard at the first possible opportunity. Even the consistent, if not really surprising ending doesn't help much to iron out this shortcoming.
"Roman J. Israel, Esq" is nevertheless an entertaining and worth seeing film. But what makes him so disappointing at the end is that he would have had what it takes to make a great drama. This is already made clear by Denzel Washington's extremely strong game alone. Colin Farrell also plays much better than the script actually allows him to do. In the really good moments of the story, which are also carried by outstanding actors, it becomes clear what potential was given away at the end. But even if this sounds rather negative now, the entertainment value and the aspects about the weaknesses of the US legal system are strong enough to justify "worth seeing".
An article by Frankfurt-Tipp