ON THE BASIS OF SEX review by Patrick Hendrickson – Felicity Jones portrays Ruth Bader Ginsburg

ON THE BASIS OF SEX review by Patrick Hendrickson – Felicity Jones portrays Ruth Bader Ginsburg

ON THE BASIS OF SEX tells the story of an early case in the career of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Her early days at law school are portrayed as a highly misogynistic environment and the case has to do with sex discrimination, so the main focus of this production is very clearly Ginsburg’s career-long fight against this type of discrimination.

Felicity Jones plays Ginsburg and does an effective job in the lead role, the only issue with her performance would be that her attempt to mimic Ginsburg’s voice occasionally turns into a cartoonish accent which can be somewhat distracting. Armie Hammer plays the role of Ginsburg’s husband Marty who is stricken with cancer early on during the film, which leaves Ruth responsible for attending his classes as well as completing his assignments while he undergoes the recovery process. This hard work on Ruth’s part pays off with Marty being welcomed into a prestigious law firm while Ruth herself has to transfer away from Harvard to complete her coursework at Columbia. After graduating, her job-hunt very quickly hits a dead end and she is forced to give up her dreams of practicing law and instead becomes a college professor. The case she chooses to take on becomes an opportunity to break away from this unfulfilled life as a professor.

The final courtroom scene is by far the highlight of the production, as tends to happen with legal dramas. Ginsburg gives an impassioned speech about the major implications that this court case has on the country as a whole. The only issue with this scene would be how short it is. The entirety of the movie builds up to this one moment but it passes by relatively quickly. This scene feeling so short is indicative of a larger issue with pacing that this film has. The timeline of events flies by with several years of Ginsburg’s life being passed over instantly. Presumably this period of Ginsburg’s life did not have any content relevant to the case that serves as this production’s plot, but it still feels somewhat sloppy to just skip over nearly a decade of Ginsburg’s life like this.

There are some truly effective moments of cinematography that are worth noting in ON THE BASIS OF SEX. There are two shots in particular that come to mind when I say this, the opening shot and the closing shot. The opening shot presents a long walk of Harvard Law students heading to class with Ginsburg repeatedly slipping in and out of view amidst this sea of men in suits. Ginsburg herself is an icon in American history and this film does an effective job of giving an insight into her early days in her chosen career. The pacing issues are somewhat jarring but do not take too much away from this film’s quality, overall earning the exercise a 4/5

SPOILER – Something to watch for at the end, the final shot shows Ginsburg alone ascending the steps of the United States Supreme Court Building. As she reaches the top, Jones is blocked by one of the massive pillars and Justice Ginsburg herself comes into view for the final visual of the production – END SPOILER

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