Courtesy of Tribune News Service

Review: ‘On the Basis of Sex’ gives insight into one of Ginsburg’s first successes

Movie: "On the Basis of Sex"

Release Date: Dec. 25, 2018

Run Time: Two hours 

Rating: B-

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, well-known for her position as a justice on the Supreme Court, has been receiving an abundance of recognition recently. Just last summer, a documentary titled "RBG" was released in her honor. Since her current health has been impacting her service in court, it seems as if the public is beginning to reflect on all that Ginsburg has accomplished. "On the Basis of Sex" gives viewers a closer look at one of her most famous cases, as well as portraying a more behind-the-scenes look of the hardships Ginsburg faced to get to where she stands today.

The story begins with Ginsburg’s enrollment in the Harvard Law School. Ruth Bader Ginsburg, portrayed by Felicity Jones, is one of nine women in the program. The dean, Erwin Grinswold, played by Sam Waterston, rather than substituting the word student, puts an emphasis on the importance of what the makeup of a Harvard man should be. This is viewers’ first chance to see Ginsburg questioning the system. She stands out against a room of men in unvaried black suits in an eye-popping blue dress, a color that often represents intelligence. The color is frequented throughout the film, even in Ginsburg’s eyes herself.

Martin “Marty” Ginsburg, portrayed by Armie Hammer, is already a part of Ginsburg’s life as the film begins, saving viewers from the bore of a “will they, won’t they?” romance that obviously occurred in the end, hence their near-fifty year marriage. Hammer’s role in the film solidifies his spot in Hollywood, as his once dying career was saved by a role in Luca Guadagnino’s "Call Me By Your Name."

The story reflects the importance of Ginsburg’s family and her rocky relationship with her daughter blossoming into two strong, independent women finding common ground in fighting for equality. Ginsburg’s daughter, Jane, played by Cailee Spaeny, helps Ginsburg open her eyes to the progression of society, which in the end is the key factor in Ginsburg’s case.

The question that viewers might find themselves asking is, “Does this give Ruth Bader Ginsburg all-deserving justice?” For a woman who has two films about her already under her belt, it is safe to say that Ginsburg has a story worth telling. Felicity Jones is a well-respected actress, with an oscar nomination and 11 film awards to her name, but an accent that was not as consistent as it should have been made viewers blind to Ginsburg’s powerful words. In addition, the backdrops were noticeably fake, for a movie whose budget is estimated to be around $20 million.

Although the film was a nice reminder of Ginsburg’s accomplishments, the flaws were hard to overlook.


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