You know, for the first twenty minutes of this movie or so, I felt like all our main character needed - was to get a significant amount of sleep for a night, and all the problems he'd been having might go away. I also felt like the real mystery of "Roman" might be why the man had so many options for the women in his life when we weren't "really" being given a ton of reasons to find him all that likable. In the film, it takes a seriously decent amount of time before we even see the guy crack a smile! Yup, I said it.
Roman ain't moving insurance policies like he used to - the man has got a lot on his mind these days, even if none of those thoughts seem to come clearly to him at first. All we know is that he better start pickin' up the slack because he's been given two weeks' notice to get his job performance back up to snuff - or the guy will lose his job. He's been missing all kinds of things from what we can tell, from coaching games to birthdays, full-on chunks of time, to a whole bunch of information that seems like it would be really beneficial for him to have – Roman is incomplete, and yet searching for some level of completeness. He's also involved in a major scandal at his church, having left his wife for another woman. Roman is living a highly complex life when we meet him & he's trying to sort it out; his status would read 'it's complicated' for many justifiable reasons. Would you believe it if I told you that he's in the process of maybe even finding himself another side piece from the employee pool at work? No wonder the man never gets any real sleep; Roman is practically living three lives at once!
One tough issue with a main character that is consistently "tired & exhausted" all the time - is that a movie would tend to reflect that, which ends up making "Roman" kind of sleepy for the first half as everything gets established. For the most part, the acting is pretty sound, though I did find a few debatable moments, such as the opening scene where Roman wants a picture back from the pastor he's having a meeting with or where he's being strangled by a stranger with a rope. Then there are scenes involving a gun later on with his father, stepping in to save a troubled kid - the details come across, but a bit more conviction & commitment to the scenes would make the movements we see onscreen more believable and/or feeling less choreographed. In situations like those, I tend to feel like it's a 50/50 split – we don't really have a choice but to want more from the acting, but it's also the job of the director to be as objective as possible and combat those moments. Sometimes tough conversations & reshoots need to be had, but these are the right decisions to make, and ultimately, how you continue to grow & evolve as an artist on both sides of the lens. Darold Lingo (Roman) does a quality job with his acting, but I felt we needed a bit more depth to the character or backstory so that we have a reason to want him to get out of this entanglement. Wendi Smith (Neesha) has a lot to offer this film and provides a real emotional spark every time we see her. Garrett Johnson adds the heart that "Roman" genuinely needed more of in his scenes as Perdi.
I think "Roman" will face its biggest challenge as a film in how it ended. There's no doubt that it tightly wraps up the last scene that we see, but many people will feel like a ton got left out of wrapping up the rest of Roman's story. When I got to the end of "Roman," my very first thought was, 'Okay, were we pressed for time, or was there something I missed?' It just felt like it ended, simple as that. As if writer/director Dwight Wilkins just decided to pack up his gear for the day and canceled filming the following week's worth of scenes instead. So don't get me wrong – I liked what we got & stuck with it, but heck yeah, it felt like there was about a half-hour missing by the time it was over. And you know what they say…one opinion represents about a thousand others that'll feel the same way. So if I felt like that, there's a good chance that the court of public opinion would render the same verdict. It all felt a bit rushed, is all I'm saying, especially compared to the sleepier pace the rest of the movie displayed.
Having said all that, what Wilkins has created does have authentic ideas at its core - in my world and the way that I watch movies, that counts for a lot. I might not always feel like those ideas are fully realized or capitalized on their true potential, but I appreciate that they exist. "Roman" is not trying to carbon copy something else, like just about half of mainstream movies seem to these days. So while I stand by my assessment that there was plenty of room to expand this story of "Roman" from the character development - to the commitment in the scenes we see, there are still a whole lot of positives rooted in the ideas that drive this film to appreciate as well. It kept me interested, and it was watchable – I always have a hard time feeling like anything we watch owes us much more than that. I'm going with three stars out of five when it comes to "Roman" – there's plenty of room to improve it, but it definitely is not a bad flick.