On the Basis of Sex (2018)

On the Basis of Sex
Director: Mimi Leder
Writer: Daniel Stiepleman
Cast: Felicity Jones, Armie Hammer, Justin Theroux, Sam Waterston, Kathy Bates, Cailee Spaeny, Jack Reynor, Stephen Root
Seen on: 27.3.2019
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Content Note: (critical treatment of) sexism, misogyny

Plot:
In 1956, Ruth Bader Ginsburg (Felicity Jones) is one of only a handful female law students. But she’s ambitious and smart, has a supportive husband in Marty (Armie Hammer) and doesn’t let herself be discouraged. But sticking to her guns is only half the battle for her, and for the next years, Ruth has to fight for her place in the world of law and of women in the world in general over and over again.

On the Basis of Sex is an excellent film. Well made with a wonderful cast and politically outspoken. That’s how I like my movies.

The film poster showing a giant Ruth Bader Ginsburg (Felictiy Jones) leaning against the supreme court building.

I’m no Ruth Bader Ginsburg scholar, so I don’t know how much of the film is an accurate representation of her life and how much may have been romanticized, but I definitely enjoyed the movie version we had here. And I guess it’s a fair assessment that she really did have to fight her way through the old boys’ club. And Felicity Jones manages to emulate her extremely well.

Watching the film is, on the one hand, a beautiful testament to what feminism has achieved in the past 50-60 years, but on the other hand it’s also extremely frustrating how we still keep having the same arguments again and again. Basically in passing, the film also manages to show very different types of discrimination – because there isn’t just one – and always makes sure to call it out, either by showing the reactions to that behavior, or by being absolutely explicit about it.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg (Felictiy Jones) getting into an elevator with only men.

That being said, the film could have used a bit more of an intersectional perspective. The film barely touches on anything besides white, abled, rather rich women and their struggles. But despite that, I was completely wrapped up in the story and couldn’t help but root for Ruth. And for her relationship with Marty and her daughter Jane (Cailee Spaeny).

The film is so well put-together, there isn’t a boring minute here. And it beautifully manages to balance showing RBG’s achievements in her own career as well as her achievements for women in the USA. In short, it’s really enjoyable.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg (Felictiy Jones) walking into a courthouse, followed by her husband Martin Ginsburg (Armie Hammer).

Summarizing: a really good watch.

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