Review: The Trial of the Chicago 7
The whole world is watching.
And I have to stop there because half of this review would just be listing everyone in this sprawling and extraordinary cast. I love courtroom dramas, and one directed and written by Aaron Sorkin has been on my must see list all year. I'm glad Netflix picked this up so I could see it right away. While I did have some issues with it, it's one of the better films I've gotten to see in a while.
"Sorkinisms" can be a hard pill to swallow for some, but I've always enjoyed his fast paced dialogue and editing and there's plenty of that here. I especially loved hearing it from Lynch, Strong, and Cohen, though the latter struggles with his accent at times. It's hard to pick a standout actor, but if I had to I think I'd go with Yahya, who has had an excellent year. But that leads me to one of my gripes
I know this movie is about the Chicago 7, which Bobby Seale was technically not part of, and that it's impossible to tell their story without him, but I was disappointed at how his part was sort of just dropped until the end credits. For something that is such a huge part of the first half of the film, I expected to at least check in with him sometime in the second half, and they don't. Logically I can see why that is, but Yayah was so compelling and what happened to Seale was so outrageous it felt like it needed more attention. On a another note, there's a very unnecessary attempted rape scene by three frat boys on a woman carrying a flag at a protest that's broken up by Jeremy Strong's character that I just found very triggering to me personally and that threw me out for a bit. It's brief but I wasn't expecting it. I wish I had known it was coming so I could've skipped over it. It's about an hour into the film.
Aside from those two issues, I really enjoyed the flow of the film. I loved how the characters were introduced at the beginning and how the story is told through not only the courtroom, but through things like Abbie narrating the story to a crowd. And I'm just happy to see my favorite actor, Joseph Gordon-Levitt in movies again. It's been so long, and we got three this year. His character isn't nearly as showy as the others, and from my understanding he's pretty whitewashed as they make him somewhat sympathetic, but I was just happy to see him. I feel like I've been clowning on Eddie Redmayne in recent years, but he was damn good in this too.
This election year has been very stressful, and Sorkins' film might as well be happening right now. What's the difference between 1968 and now? That we can get police brutality on camera? Everything else feels the same. This film functions both as a great movie, and a depressing reminder of where we're still at.
Memorable Quote: "This is the Academy Awards of protests and as far as I'm concerned it's an honor just to be nominated." - Lee Weiner (Noah Robbins)