On the Basis of Sex doesn't do justice to Ruth Bader Ginsburgby James Robins
A new biopic of US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is the moderate view of a woman who had no time for moderation.
Mimi Leder’s competent yet formulaic biopic explores precisely that period. Felicity Jones plays Ginsburg as suitably self-assured and determined, though one might wonder where that infamous Brooklyn snarl went. Presumably, the same place she left her signature windowpane spectacles.
Standing stolidly by her side (when not doing duties in the kitchen) is husband Marty, amiably performed by Armie Hammer, and by all accounts their marriage was just as sunlit, doting, and, more importantly, equal as it appears here.
What really blights On the Basis of Sex – which was written by Ginsburg’s nephew, Daniel Stiepleman – is not its spirit or conviction, which are admirable, but its lack of imagination. The film runs through the regular motions of this sort of biography, structured with a series of convenient epiphanies and eureka moments. There is, inevitably, a montage and a courtroom culmination set to soaring strings. This is the moderate view of a woman who had no time for moderation.
IN CINEMAS FROM FEBRUARY 7
Video: Focus Features
This article was first published in the February 9, 2019 issue of the New Zealand Listener.
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