On The Basis of Sex
On The Basis of Sex is a timely portrayal of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s life and struggles for equal rights for women and what she had to overcome to get a seat on the highest bench in all the land.
This movie is a well-acted ensemble piece that employs a wealth of familiar faces. Felicity Jones’ portrayal of the titular character is a good and honest performance. She carries a lot of weight of the pressures RBG deals with in her eyes and does a decent job at a 50’s NY accent. Opposite her, Armie Hammer does, a “DECENT” job as well. It’s tough! I really admire his chops, but he is a victim of his own good looks and stature. In this movie and like several others he’s been in since he broke out in The Social Network, he’s a 70% really good actor and 30% killer cyborg. Even through some of his mannequin like delivery he copilots an honest supporting performance. For me however, Justin Theroux’s performance is the stand out in this film. His take on Mel Wulf feels the most honest and appropriate to the time and every time he’s on screen you can’t take your eyes off him. Glad to see this long time supporting actor breaking out at the right time and leaving behind a memorable impression with what he did in this movie. Kathy Bates alongside a who’s who of revered actors on both the big and small screen add a lot of depth to this film.
However, those additions I believed help make this film feel too big for its own britches. There were a lot of sentiments and beats in this film that I feel would play better on that National Geographic series
Yeah that feels right. Mimi Leder’s background heavily steeped in TV is evident in a lot of the directorial choices made and in how heavily scored this film is. We’re not left with a lot of time to sit in the moments that linger and that can make these characters even more special. Those lack of moments left me feeling something dynamic is missing and would be better served to be chronicled over a 6-part mini-series as opposed to this better produced TV movie that we got.
The plot, while important is spent over several years at the beginning of RBG’s battle for acceptance amongst her peers. This movie finalizes around a land mark appellate court case helping to overturn judgements in other cases ruled On the Basis of Sex. Like other bio pics we’re left with on screen text fast forwarding 30 plus years of her life and what really made her the landslide appointee to the Supreme Court; which was a really missed opportunity.
On the Basis of Sex is worth the watch. Maybe just for a nice weekend matinee or first week download on demand in a few months though.
Directed by: Mimi Leder
Starring: Felicity Jones, Armie Hammer, Justin Theroux