Movie review: On the Basis of Sex

Seeing the scene where Ruth (Felicity Jones) is one of nine women at Harvard Law School asked to defend their educational choices at a dinner party was already familiar to me.

On-the-Basis-of-Sex-Movie-PosterI watched the movie On the Basis of Sex started with a couple handicaps for me. One is that I had seen RBG, the documentary that I loved, about the same topic, current Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Thus, seeing the scene where Ruth (Felicity Jones) is one of nine women at Harvard Law School asked to defend their educational choices at a dinner party was already familiar to me.

Another factor, and this happens way too often in cinema: many of the best lines are revealed in the trailer.
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To be fair to the film, most of the personal information about RBG was correct, as I knew from the documentary. She WAS/is very smart and driven, taking care of her sick husband Martin (Armie Hammer) while they were both in law school.

Martin, by every account, really was a preternaturally supportive husband of her path, even as his own career thrived. He WAS the better cook, by far. And Martin was the one who pointed out that the tax case that she eventually took on was up her alley.

The movie was well-acted, including by Justin Theroux as Mel Wulf from the ACLU. But the clash between him and Ruth felt somehow contrived; their real differences lasted for a much briefer period.

I wonder how much the tension between Ruth and her daughter Jane (Cailee Spaeny) was accurate. It is a great dialogue between Ruth and Jane that unfortunately made the trailer.

On the Basis of Sex felt formulaic. Yes, you root for our hero, but it takes a great film, with a certain heft to pull off a narrative for which you already know the outcome. I think the Ruth Bader Ginsburg deserved a biopic as courageous as she was. It was serviceable, but clich├ęd; I just wasn’t wowed.

My wife and I FINALLY saw On the Basis of Sex at the Spectrum in Albany. you may appreciate it more than I, especially if you haven’t seen the documentary.