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Parents' Guide to

Roman J. Israel, Esq.

By Jeffrey Anderson, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Strong performances, but inconsistent and unsatisfying.

Movie PG-13 2017 129 minutes
Roman J. Israel, Esq. Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 14+

Based on 2 parent reviews

age 15+

Coulda been good, but... it wasn't...

Here's the positives, I think: This film gives me an opportunity to have a conversation about racism, inherent bias in the legal system, pro bono work, modern protest, dedication to a cause despite it seeming overwhelming or hopeless, etc. The scenes where racism and police aggression are shown may be a good reference point for kids who have no other exposure to that sort of behavior. This film is much more real in that respect than many of the films which my kids might watch. But overall the review here on CSM is accurate - the movie doesn't really go anywhere. Great actors, poor choices, weak motivations that don't make sense. I think I'll let my 13 year old watch it, if desired, but... I don't expect him to like it much. I didn't like it much. Meh. Hopefully it can serve as an eye opener to a few things while we're all locked in the house.
age 13+

Denzel Washington is perfect in legal drama film.

Roman J. Israel, Esq. is a film that no kids would like, but teens and adults who like Denzel Washington and drama/action films will want to go see this film. Even though this film does have violence including weapons and dead bodies, it's not that bad. There is some swearing in this film, too, but it isn't that bad, either. I rate the violence 3/5 and language 3/5 too. I highly recommend this film when it comes out in limited release on November 10th and then releases nationwide on November 17th.

This title has:

Too much violence
Too much swearing

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (2 ):
Kids say (1 ):

As in his harrowing Nightcrawler, director Dan Gilroy tells the story of a brilliant, ill-fitting outsider in a vivid workplace, but this movie fails due to puzzling, choppy character arcs. Roman J. Israel, Esq., starts promisingly, with a strong, central performance by Washington. Roman is possibly a savant; he wears old, bulky clothes and oversized glasses and is unsure of how to act around people but is extremely sure of his job. Gilroy establishes a ramshackle, stressed-out Los Angeles that's full of noise and clutter and homeless people on sidewalks. Roman navigates these things assuredly, as long as human interaction isn't required.

Then the plot kicks in. Roman's first major decision makes very little sense, according to what we've seen; subsequent decisions built on this one likewise fail to hold water. Perhaps worse, the movie's main supporting character, Farrell's powerful George Pierce, keeps changing his stance. He initially seems like a villain, then turns kind, then villainous, and finally kind again; we can't trust him, even when he seems to genuinely care about Roman. A third key character, activist lawyer Maya (Carmen Ejogo), feels completely tacked on and entirely too convenient. The whole movie leaves off with an unsatisfying thud, perhaps having done too much when less would have been more interesting.

Movie Details

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