ON THE BASIS OF SEX
THREE STARS The early years of Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Supreme Court Judge and national icon
Felicity Jones, Armie Hammer
Arriving hard on the heals of the acclaimed documentary about US Supreme Court Judge Ruth Bader Ginsberg (RBG) comes this dramatisation of her early life; from wide-eyed student to the case that made her name. RBG is a force of nature and one who has left an indelible mark on both the US judicial system and its society in general. Without her or that landmark case, the feminist movement of the 1970s wouldn’t have cut through the way it did. #metoo may not have happened, and certainly not in the form we know. She is a modern treasure.
But back in the 1950’s she was a wide-eyed student who took up a place ‘that could have gone to a man’. Supported by her lawyer husband, she set out to topple gender discrimination that was the beating heart of structured society. The law held that all people are equal, unless you’re a woman in the work force. Ruth was having none of it.
A fierce performance by Felicity Jones (ROGUE ONE) anchors the drama with Armie Hammer (CALL ME BY YOUR NAME) in solid support as her, well, solid husband; together they are engaging company. That said, there’s something bloodless about the direction by Mimi Leder (THE PEACEMAKER and TV series like Shameless) that doesn’t ignite the passion that’s clearly native to the drama. With a country on the march and human rights at stake, it’s unfortunate that Ginsberg’s story quickly boils down to a dry court case.
Nonetheless, performances are strong, the story’s fascinating and there are some interesting scenes between Ginsberg and her daughter Jane who, down on the ground of a nation in turmoil, clearly ‘gets it’ long before her mother does. If you haven’t yet seen RBG the documentary then this is certainly worth your time, and makes a terrific backgrounder on one of this era’s most influential people.