Roman J. Israel, Esq. by Dan GilroyRoman J. Israel, Esq., written and directed by Dan Gilroy
Roman Israel is an unusual lawyer and role model.
Considering that he is a complex character, role model as he might be, he has a few flaws and he breaks the law.
However, this is getting to far ahead and jumping to conclusions.
Denzel Washington has an exceptional performance and he was rightly nominated for another Academy Award.
The lawyer profession is among the most despondent, derided, lugubrious and insufferable, at least in America.
Lawyers have the highest rates of divorce, depression and suicide.
Moreover, they “benefit” from a substantial number of jokes.
One of them has this lawyer on a yacht, from which he falls into the water. Very soon, a shark comes around, but departs without injuring the man over board…
It’s a miracle, cries one of the people on the vessel
No, it is not…it is an act of professional courtesy, says another
Nevertheless, Roman Israel is a different type of counselor.
He has a big heart and many Character Strengths, such as:
Curiosity, Love of Learning, Wisdom, Persistence, Hope, Gratitude, Creativity, Fairness, Appreciation of Beauty and Excellence
Open mindedness, Self-regulation, Mercy and Forgiveness, Social Intelligence, Bravery, Spirituality
Having said that, it must be added that he faces a serious challenge and he does commit a grave mistake.
In the first few scenes, the hero has to Cope with Adversity and Trauma- this is one aspect of Positive Psychology.
Indeed, we all have to face Adversity at different moments.
Roman’s partner has suffered a heart attack that has rendered him unconscious and then into a vegetative state.
Roman J. Israel Esq. used to be the one working in the office, without having to face judges or prosecutors.
He takes a few cases to court, but he does not handle well the emotions and injustice of the men involved.
Police officers have been unfair to his client and refused him access to a toilet, an act that the judge considers normal.
When the lawyer argues that this must be considered detainment or arrest and continues to support his point, he is held in contempt.
The fine is ten thousand dollars and this is one counselor that has a very small salary, of about five hundred per week.
The law office has to be closed and Roman J. Israel Esq. has to find a job, which is a very difficult enterprise.
He has a case where a young man has been a somewhat innocent participant in a felony, resulting in the murder of a clerk.
The suspect offers to cooperate with investigators, offering not just a testimony, but to help them find the killer.
When Roman Israel talks with the prosecutor, he is offered only a reduced sentence of five years, which he feels is too little.
The representative of the state hangs up the phone very quickly, and the prisoner commits suicide.
Given his despondent state, the lawyer breaks the seal of confidence and the privileged attorney –client relationship and divulges the thereabouts of the murderer in exchange for the reward.
In a way, this is the moment when Superman transforms himself into Lex Luthor, or anyway, the role model becomes just another human being.
How could this happen?
There are plenty of reasons for that and then there is the lugubrious prospect that the hero will pay a heavy price.
Data Protection Choices
Israel, Esq. Roman J. Israel is a lawyer who has spent his entire thirty-six-year career as the employee of a boldly principled, civil-rights-oriented defense attorney named William Henry Jackson. Roman does the legal writing and stays entirely behind the scenes; Jackson is the trial lawyer. But when Jackson suffers a heart attack and dies, Roman is left unemployed.
On Dvd & Streaming
This review originally ran during TIFF. In the ethical drama Roman J. Israel, Esq. A man who has worked diligently in the shadows for little money, recognition, or gratitude finds a morally bankrupt way of getting richer quick and likes having power for the first time — or at least for the first time in 40 years. What galls Roman — what he has dedicated his life to fighting — is the prosecutorial strategy of overcharging an accused generally indigent criminal so that he or she will feel pressured to take a lesser plea, the resulting sentence the same as if the defendant had gone to trial with the appropriate charge and lost. The change comes when, in a peculiar but exciting turn, the impoverished Roman takes a job at a tony L.