An idealistic lawyer (Denzel Washington) teams up with a ruthless attorney (Colin Farrell) for a nerve-wracking court case, in the highly anticipated second feature from Dan Gilroy (Nightcrawler).
Roman J. Israel, Esq.
Festival tickets go on sale September 4 at 10am (TIFF Members’ pre-sale on September 2 from 10am to 4pm).
Over the course of a 35-year career, Academy Award winner Denzel Washington has proven himself to be one of cinema's best-ever actors. Partly due to the innate confidence he projects on screen and partly due, perhaps, to his choice of roles, he has established a screen persona of inarguable authority. And so it's fascinating to watch Washington here as he digs deep into a character whose strength is a fire burning inside rather than projected outward. His Roman J. Israel, Esq. is reticent but sure of his convictions, and, as the story progresses, increasingly unpredictable.
When first we meet Roman, he is a lawyer working behind the scenes, preparing cases in a shabby, book-strewn office and letting his boss perform in the courtroom. But when his boss is suddenly unable to work and Roman must collaborate with a richer, slicker, more ruthless attorney (Colin Farrell), what might have been an ordinary case becomes a test of Roman's ethics and his nerve.
It's a complete pleasure to watch Washington and Farrell spar on screen, but the rewards of Roman J. Israel, Esq. run deeper. Director Dan Gilroy (Nightcrawler) probes Roman's character, finding complex motivations in his relationship with a teacher trying to reach out to him (Carmen Ejogo), and a deep well of righteous principle in the ideas that drive him to an act that changes his life and risks the future of his firm. Carrying himself through much of the film with the caution of an introvert and the wardrobe of a 1960s professor, Washington's Roman Israel surprises at every turn.