Ruth Bader-Ginsburg film tells inspirational story about legend

Lasirra Hines, Entertainment Editor

A legend she was, Ruth Bader-Ginsburg was an associate justice on the Supreme Court of the United States. She was well known for being a women’s activist and would handle sex-based discrimination cases when she was a lawyer. She worked with the American Civil Liberties Union Women’s Rights Project. To much sadness, Ginsburg at the age of 87 passed away 18 September 2020. She had been on the Supreme Court since 1993, after being appointed by former President Bill Clinton. 

As media coverage and national mourning continue, movie theaters are again playing the 2018 film based on her life. “On the Basis of Sex,”  directed by Mimi Leder, tells the story of the life of RBG.

The movie starts in 1953 with young 20-year-old Ruth, portrayed by Felicity Jones, walking with a crowd of men going into Harvard University for her first year of law school, of course in slow-motion to add that dramatic effect, her face yet to be revealed as the beginning credits start. We see as she sits down with her class and the dean Erwin Griswold, portrayed by Sam Waterston, addresses the class. We are introduced to RBG’s husband Martin Ginsburg, portrayed by Armie Hammer, who is majoring in tax law and becomes a tax attorney after they graduate. 

The movie her life throughout the years, leading up to her ground-breaking case. Moritz v. Commissioner dealt with sex discrimination as a violation of the Equal Protection Clause, setting off RGB’s lawyer career. Charles E. Moritz, portrayed by Chris Mulkey, was denied a tax deduction for being a caregiver because he was male. As the case is being built, we see the struggles she faces to fight the case, from being told she wasn’t allowed to do it to being told to drop and concede the case without taking it to court. Of course, she took it and won the case. 

Seeing her work through all of the barriers put in her way to prevent her from achieving her goal was very inspirational. However, the second half was far better executed compared to the first half of the movie.

In the first half, we are given the exposition to her life, the beginning of her college career, her family life with her husband and daughter Jane Ginsburg, portrayed by Cailee Spaeny, but then we jump to different moments in her life that have no correlation to each other. In the span of 30 minutes, I witnessed 20 years, and I wasn’t sure what I just watched. The beginning is fast-paced and left no time to enjoy it, as we simply got little moments here and there without any implication of a year change, just simply going from 1953 to 1970. By the time the one-hour mark hit, there wasn’t much other than the scene where Martin collapses, is taken to the hospital, then told that he has cancer. Even with that scene, it wasn’t as emotional as it could have been, and there were many long pauses of silence that were just unnecessary.

The second half, from the one-hour mark on, was absolutely incredible. It was much more well-executed in a sense of scene changes, and everything flowed, with actions and consequences. 

The case battle was for sure the climax of the movie, with little subplots of women’s rights spread throughout. It was interesting to see her work the way she did, alongside her husband, and while it was cliche researching, where there’s voice overs and you see little snippets of them working in different environments, it felt complete even with the sped up scene. Her boost of confidence in the court when she messed up her speech felt rather cliche, and was easy to predict, but was still amazing to see. Her rebuttal is what won the case, and I loved seeing a rebuttal properly executed. 

All throughout, it was fairly accurate to RBG’s life especially with her husband, who was very supportive throughout her entire life, and seeing that in the movie was. Both Jones and Hammer are incredible actors, and Jones played Ginsburg very well, including the reserved, quiet nature of the justice. 

The ending was by far my favorite, as it had Jones walking up the stairs of the Supreme Court House, before transitioning into Ruth Bader-Ginsburg herself walking up the steps, which I was excited to see. It wrapped up the movie with the legend herself being featured in the end, hearing pieces from different cases she fought. It ends with her quoting Sarah Grimké, an American aboltioinist, “I ask no favor for my sex. All I ask of our brethren is that they take their feet off our necks.”

A beautiful tribute to the Notorious RBG, as people called her, I would highly recommend watching both the film and the 2018 documentary titled “RBG.” You can watch both films on Hulu.