Review: On The Basis of Sex
The Notorious R.B.G
After last year's wonderful documentary following Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, we get the dramatic story of how she started out. We meet up with Ruth (Felicity Jones) as she's starting law school at Harvard. Of course none of her professors (Sam Waterston and Stephen Root) take her seriously, but her husband Marty (Armie Hammer) always does. We see her go through school, struggle to find a job as a lawyer due to gender discrimination and finally take on Charles Moritz's (Chris Mulkey) tax case that puts her on the map.
I feel like this movie has almost been forgotten. It was talked up like it was going to be a massive awards contender only for it to be pushed to a January release with little fanfare. It's almost ironic considering all Ruth has had to fight for. For what it's worth, On The Basis of Sex might not be perfect but it's still a very good film.
While the film does take its liberties as biopics do, it doesn't do anything egregious and the flow of the story works well. It's easy to be on Ruth's side when so many men go against her, even the ones like Mel Wulf (Justin Theroux) of the ACLU who are on her side. Felicity Jones brings a fine gravity to the role. The accent is a bit of a struggle but not to the point where it gets distracting. I think she does her justice. I believed every word she said.
The same can't be said for a few very reliable actors. Waterston, Root and Jack Raynor, who are all very good actors were the weak point here. They play professors and lawyers who go up against Ruth during a hearing, but the thing about it is I never once believed a word they were saying. They're the bad guys, the ones that think women should have their place at home, but you can tell that these men really don't believe that in real life and it showed in their performances. Felicity never pulls you out of the moment with her acting, but those three certainly did. It was bizarre considering I was going into this film expecting to dislike Armie Hammer the most and he ended up being not bad at all.
Aside from the acting, another thing that really stands out is the costume design. It's wonderful, especially when we make it to the 70's. It makes me long for more pieces like that to come back. The film's 3rd act is easily the strongest and it doesn't hold anything back. The last shot of the film was enough to get me chocked up.
Memorable Quote: "Because that's what I wanted to do!" - Ruth Bader Ginsburg (Felicity Jones)