On the Basis of Sex

2019-01-25 07:06
Felicity Jones in the movie On the Basis of Sex.


The story of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, her struggles for equal rights and what she had to overcome in order to become a U.S. Supreme Court Justice.


Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is having a much deserved time in the spotlight with two films about her life and legal legacy.

The trailblazing advocate of women’s rights has gained popular culture status not only in American but the rest of the world too and has be dubbed the "Notorious R.B.G."

Early in 2018 the documentary, RBG premiered at Sundance Festival. The film was one of the highest grossing independent films of the year and is a top contender in the Academy Awards Best Documentary category. 

Hot on the heels of the critically acclaimed documentary comes this feature film, which focuses on aspects of her personal life, the struggles she faces as a female lawyer in the 60s and 70s and one of her earliest ground-breaking cases.

I have to be honest though after seeing the film I really wanted to see the documentary, which I did, and it gave me some more insight into Ginsburg. 

For me, the drama was an appetiser and I was greedy to know more about the life of RBG.

With that being said though, the film is a beautiful introduction to the legendary Ginsburg. 

It follows the standard biopic format – the first part of the film focuses on Ruth’s (Felicity Jones) time at Harvard Law School, the gross sexism she experiences even though she makes it to the Harvard Law Review and passes at the top of the class.

The second part focuses on her trying to get a job after graduating. Despite her stellar CV she struggles to find a job at a law firm because “the wives get jealous.” She eventually gets a job as a professor at Rutgers Law School.

Part three focuses largely on the tax case that her husband Marty (Armie Hammer) brings to her attention. Bachelor Charles Mortiz (Chris Mulkey) is denied a caregiver tax exemption because he is a man. By taking on this case Ruth sees it as an in to change all the laws discriminating on the basis of sex.

The film has a good balance between her personal and her professional life. What particularly stood out in the film (and also the documentary) is the relationship between Ruth and Marty, who was always her number one supporter.

Marty went against the grain when it came to what being a man was considered at the time - he cooked, he cleaned he even took care of the kids. His character was so refreshing amongst the other male characters. Hammer embodied the character perfectly; he was the perfect supporting actor to Jones’ Ruth. 

When it comes to Jones’ portrayal, she embodied the quiet strength that Ginsburg possesses. 

Other standout performances were from Justin Theroux, who plays Mel Wulf the legal director of the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union), and Kathy Bates, who played political activist and lawyer Dorothy Kenyon.

While the film might be set in the 60s and 70s, the issues explored are still faced by millions of women all over the world. Great strides have been made but we still have a long way to go in terms of gender equality. 

In terms of biopics the film ticks all the boxes - it has drama, suspense and a kick ass court scene. 

Everyone should go and see this movie; after all women’s rights are human rights.

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