In 2014, screenwriter Dan Gilroy made an impressive directorial debut with the incendiary thriller Nightcrawler, which journeyed inside the twisted mind of an amoral cameraman, who sells footage of fatal traffic accidents to news stations.
Gilroy won numerous plaudits ifor his uncompromising screenplay. In Roman J. Israel, Esq, the gifted writer-director conjures another conflicted and socially awkward (anti)hero, who cheats the system with tragic repercussions for the people around him. The film is anchored by a scintillating, Oscar-nominated performance from Denzel Washington as the eponymous legal savant, who conceals his genius behind a shambolic appearance and a complete lack of social niceties.
Washington’s mesmerising portrayal throws into sharp relief the fatal flaws in Gilroy’s uneven script, which struggles to find a strong narrative thread.
Roman J. Israel (Washington) is the brilliant mind that lurks in the shadows of an LA law firm fronted by charismatic champion of the people, William Henry Jackson.
When Jackson suffers a heart attack and the practice is closed, Roman is hired by sharp-suited rival defence attorney, George Pierce (Colin Farrell), to represent clients with slim chances of success.
An intriguing character study in desperate search of a coherent plot.
On general release