Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Movie Review: "On the Basis of Sex" (2018)

On the Basis of Sex 2018 movie poster
Image Source

Director: Mimi Leder
Year: 2018
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 2 hours, 0 minutes

The story of Ruth Bader Ginsburg from the time she spent attending Harvard Law School up to her work on the landmark civil rights case Moritz vs. Commissioner of Internal Revenue.

On the Basis of Sex 2018 Ruth Bader Ginsburg movie
"In my experience, small mistakes are glaring when you stand out." (Image Source)
Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a prolific figure in United States history. Most of us know her from the years she has spent serving as a Supreme Court justice, but many decades prior, Ginsburg argued a monumental court case that paved the way for changes to laws that would allow women and men to break out of their historical gender roles. We may take it for granted now, but if it weren't for the "Notorious RBG" and others like her, it could still be legal for businesses, the government, and employers to discriminate on the basis of sex. "On the Basis of Sex" is directed by Mimi Leder, who is known for directing films like "Deep Impact," "The Peacemaker," and "Pay it Forward." It is written by Daniel Stiepleman, Ruth Bader Ginsburg's nephew. This film tells the story of Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (Felicity Jones), one of only a handful of women attending Harvard Law School in the 1950s. Post-college, Ruth struggles to find a job as a lawyer despite graduating at the top of her class. Eventually, she becomes a law professor at Rutgers University. Most of the movie focuses on her work with the ACLU and her argument of the landmark case Moritz vs. Commissioner of Internal Revenue, a tax law that did not allow unmarried men to receive a caregiver tax write-off. At the time, men were not thought of as likely caregivers, and the law discriminated against them as such. The story also explores Ruth's personal life, including her marriage with husband Marty Ginsburg (Armie Hammer), his battle with cancer, and their eventual raising of two children while both being lawyers.
On the Basis of Sex 2018 Ruth Bader Ginsburg movie
"It's not a movement if everyone's sitting - it's a support group." (Image Source)
It might have been a bit of a disservice that "On the Basis of Sex" came out the same year as the fabulous, incredible, thorough documentary "RBG" by Julie Cohen and Betsy West, which was very successful as far as documentaries go. Millions of people will already know the more in-depth herstory of Ruth Bader Ginsburg because they saw the documentary. Others prefer more glossy and flashy Hollywood biographies, and truth be told, this film is not a bad place to start. It covers much of the same information as the previously mentioned documentary, but with a touch more dramatic flair. It follows the standard true-life old fashioned Hollywood "Oscar-bait" biopic formula and doesn't do much more than giving audiences a highlight reel of some of the struggles and triumphs throughout RBG's life. This is not necessarily a bad thing. This movie kept us interested and engaged throughout its runtime. Of course, it's not hard to do considering its subject is both a fascinating and trailblazing public servant who has done more good in her 85 years on this planet than most of us could ever achieve in ten lifetimes. The acting is good, but it's not perfect. Playing the role of such an iconic, important person would be hard for any actor, but Felicity Jones gives it her all and goes full-force at it. Her accent does waiver from time to time, which is a bit distracting, but otherwise, she does a great job. The film hits its emotional apex in its final act, raising a spirit of hope in us that led to an outpouring of emotion when Bader Ginsberg gave her closing arguments during the Moritz vs. Commissioner of Internal Revenue case. We found ourselves crying because of the power of these final moments. Without them, the film would have suffered, and it needed that final impassioned push to solidify just how remarkable RBG is.
On the Basis of Sex 2018 movie
"Don't worry, I'm comfortable being smarter than you." (Image Source)
For those who have not seen the documentary "RBG," or for those who prefer watching dramatized Hollywood biopic versions of the lives and times of real historical figures but still want to get a quick look at the enormous impact Ruth Bader Ginsburg had on civil rights, "On the Basis of Sex" is a neat, tidy, "fine" way to start.

My Rating: 7/10
BigJ's Rating: 7.5/10
IMDB's Rating: ~5.7/10
RT Rating: ~71%
Do we recommend this movie: Yes!

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