Roman J Israel, Esq is a movie that defies modern forms of correctness with direct truth and can. Denzel Washinghton takes you into a world of a man who beleives in truth as truth, in doing no wrong, in virtuos freedom and movements to advocate for social justice.

A man in his 40s, with a large Afro, bespectacled and with a wimpy walk, he works as a partner in a two person law firm, where he does the backroom work, passionately drowning in legal briefs and with no social addictions of modern life.

This is a man with no facebook, no twitter, a 1980’s flip phone, living in a poor neighbourhood but nontheless not ambitious about moving. A man who life is turned upside down in an instant when his partner has a heart attack.

All of a sudden he is forced out of the back office into the courtroom. Asked to do simple things like settle a case for an innocent young black man who was in the wrong place from a harsh 15 years into a slap on the wrist 3 years, he can’t accept it…bungles it up, shocked inside into seeing what his partner used to do….and all of a sudden his life is turned upside down. He doesn’t know what to do.

This movie is simple: a story about a good man turning bad, and in the process a bad man turning good. Though the cost is immense, a matter of trial, best  filed in court as:

Roman J Esq

Roman grows on you, and his supporting cast, by their weakness and sloppy words actually trenghten his case, makes you root for him more. But is it a lost cause? Has the world changed so much that nowadays common decency does not man, that man eat man is accepted, that justice is actually injustice minimized and that doing the right thing can be wrong in the eyes of the one who interprets the law – and you get punished for it.

What is initially intriguing about the movie is the name Esquire. We all know Esquire magazine, but i had to google the word and find out the actual meaning. In fact, someone inside the movie asked him about it. It apparatently has something to do with being more than a Gentelman and just below the level of a Knight, something about being a honorable man, such that lawyers in the US take up the name once they start practising law – it is bestowed and not given.



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James Maina is the editor of What To Watch. Passionate about the creative world of film and media, James loves to create magazines, video games, websites and android apps in his spare time, but he is most passionate about one thing: Movies on the big screen. Email your feedback to