Review: On The Basis Of Sex

Ruth Bader Ginsburg is currently a cultural icon, a celebrity even. The 25-year Supreme Court Justice has been ever-popular in the news these past several years, but On The Basis Of Sex doesn’t concern itself with haughty news stories. It sticks to the early facts of her legal career, mostly. The film follows Ruth from her first day in law school to her first big win, and I for one think it accomplishes this brilliantly. With nearly 1/3 of the movie devoted to showcasing her zeal for equal rights before she is even handed her first case, Daniel Stiepleman (her nephew) delivered a script that allows the viewers to gain a better understanding of how Justice Ginsburg attained the position she now has, and cements her there with emotive response. It isn’t perfect, and a few things like the abundant legalese and Felicity Jones’ inability to sustain a Brooklyn accent from scene to scene do stand out, but looking past those distractions brings to light a true, war-on-beliefs story. Ginsburg spearheaded efforts to “set a new precedent” on the logical, yet backwards way of thinking at a time when most lawyers and cases that came before her tried and failed. Having yet to watch the critically-acclaimed RBG documentary of last year, I don’t understand why this film falls short where its predecessor succeeded. But I would rather watch her efforts play out in this movie, an origin story, than a two hour Wikipedia highlights reel that begins in the courtroom where this one ends and runs through her career to date. I don’t think it’s fair to say that this movie fails to encapsulate her entirely or that it doesn’t do her justice, and mostly because Ruth herself gave it the green light. And that’s a Ginsburn.
Personal beliefs and political stances aside, I recommend this film mostly for the way it should help us learn from history so we don’t repeat the same mistakes. I appreciate the feedback I continue to receive outside of this blog, but really I just enjoy movies and hope that some of you do too 🙂 And if you do, watch this one sometime and let me know what you think in the comments below. Thanks for reading, and keep an eye open for my next film review, which is likely to be If Beale Street Could Talk because it just went into wide release this past weekend, and I’m looking forward to it. Cheers!

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