Five things to know from the TIFF premiere of Denzel Washington's 'Roman J. Israel, Esq.'

Denzel Washington in "Roman J. Israel, Esq." (Sony Pictures)
Denzel Washington in "Roman J. Israel, Esq." (Sony Pictures)

Denzel Washington's latest movie, "Roman J. Israel, Esq." had its world premiere Sunday at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Here are five takeaways:

  1. Dan Gilroy wrote and directed the movie, his first film since "Nightcrawler." It follows Washington's title character, an attorney grappling with the loss of long-held ideals.
  2. It's not as accomplished as "Nightcrawler." Tackling the idea of the burden and blessings that come with following a moral compass, the movie loses its focus midway through and becomes bogged down in plot.
  3. That's unfortunate because Washington delivers a pretty interesting performance for the first half of the film, playing a plainspoken, direct-to-a-fault idealist. (At a post-screening Q&A with Gilroy, Washington said Roman probably has Asperger's syndrome.)
    Washington also rocks a wine-colored suit that would have made Prince smile.
  4. Gilroy continues to display an affinity for capturing lesser-seen parts of Los Angeles, here making good use of the Bunker Hill neighborhood near downtown.
    Roman also takes Carmen Ejogo's grass-roots activist to dinner at Cicada, where they have a lovely meal except, as Roman notes, "the portions were small." (Can we get an amen?)
  5. We never find out what the "J" stands for.

"Roman J. Israel, Esq." opens in select theaters on Nov. 3 and expands throughout the month.

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