Roman J. Israel, Esq.

Published nearly 200 years ago, Washington Irving’s “Rip Van Winkle” tells of a man who falls asleep during the colonial era and wakes up two decades later, after the American Revolution, to find himself living in a different nation. This notion of a long sleep and a rude awakening is tailor-made for social satire—think of Chance the gardener, the graying simpleton played by Peter Sellers in Being There (1979), who has spent his entire life cloistered in a rich man’s home but, upon the man’s death, is turned out onto the mean streets of Washington, D.C., and mistakenly adopted by Beltway types as a political savant. Now Dan Gilroy, writer-director of the creepy news satire Nightcrawler, brings us Roman J. Israel, Esq., whose title character, a self-styled “revolutionary” criminal defense attorney, has been holed up for decades in the Manhattan office of a two-man law firm. The awkward Roman writes brilliant defense briefs that his partner, William, delivers in court, but then William suffers a heart attack, his family shuts down the struggling firm, and Roman is ejected into the real world to fend for himself. Continue reading>>