Historical documentaries always fall victim to the dramatization treatment of the cinema world. As such, we end up eating them up, except for the purists, as we become enthralled in the spark’s notes version of the historical legacy these people left. So, in the age and time of politics, let’s pick a supreme court justice as the next one and see what stories are told. Robbie K back on review duty as he checks out:
Film: On The Basis Of Sex (2018)
- Use of most characters
- Makeup and Costumes
- Good Writing
- Jargon translated
- Message towards key demographic
Summary: You can certainly get this from the trailers, but the hallmark of these movies is often the acting, and this film is no exception. Felicity Jones talents continue to soar in her bravado, mannerisms, and wonderful delivery of a lawyer fighting for what’s right. Hammer as well finds his stride as the supporting character working to help Ruth’s goals. The rest of the crew have wonderful acting ability, and most of the characters are well integrated into the tale to really bring the most out of the case that would change so much. And in regards to looks, the makeup and costume department gets special props as they bring the times of the past into history and capture the looks of that era.
Yet while the look is there, does this film have the feel? For the most part, yes it does. On the Basis of Sex has good writing behind it, as a grand display of passionate speeches, impressive vocabulary filled monologues, and fiery, passion filled scenes unfold. It’s smart, witty, and quite fitting of the prowess of the woman and probably something the older audience will enjoy. Not familiar with the law and all the technical terms that come with it? No problem! This film has got the spark’s notes version of relevant information there to keep you integrated into the case and not get too lost in all the convoluted terminology. In addition, the film makes use of the speeches to really try to inspire and fire up the young women watching. It held the heart and soul of the movie and I think was the central aspect of the film.
- Not utilizing other characters
- A little convoluted
- The Opening’s necessity
Summary: With these types of films, the key is to work hard to make it entertaining and yet truthful. On the Basis of Sex’s pace was not for me, becoming a little tedious at times as it hobbled along to get to the big case at hand. This uneven pace brought rough patches that had me fighting sleep, that took away the momentum of the movie. What helped amplify this component was the convoluted moments where the law jargon took over the movie magic. While Basis of Sex has interpreted much of the heavy technical terms there may be some very detailed moments that can bring a fog to your brain and potentially tire you out. Fantastic attention to details, but not the most engaging at times.
In addition, the other thing that also didn’t woo me was some of the characters they didn’t put as much focus on. Kathy Bates, the legend herself, has little appearance in the movie despite being a selling point for the trailer. The rivals led by Sam Watterson were semi-used, but only in the latter half instead of throughout the movie. The result is taking away some of the heat and suspense I think they wanted to go for. As for the opening moments of the movie, well they are okay. Yes, they do justice in setting the stage and introducing all the pieces to the puzzle. However, these rather important moments feel a little fast forwarded to me, rushed over and almost feeling unnecessary as much of the focus is on the big case instead of her entire life as the trailers portrayed. Thus, I think the direction was not all there in terms of how they wanted to bring her entire life into focus.
On the Basis of Sex accomplishes the goal of appealing to its key demographic, showing off the amazing talents of Ruth Bader Ginsberg and waving the girl power flag high. It’s acting and character to use are fantastic for the most part, with makeup and writing to really bring out the full prowess of the scene. However, the movie still needs some balance in terms of using all characters, trying to tone down the legal jargon, and figuring out what they wanted to highlight. As picky as this sounds, the movie was good and has artistic nature to it, but it didn’t quite deliver the ultimate performance they were going for. Worth a trip to theater? Not so much, but still worth checking out when it comes to home viewing.
My scores are:
Movie Overall: 7.0