Review: On the Basis of Sex

March 11, 2019

 

For some, especially those like us ‘across the pond’, the story of American Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg may be lesser known; especially in a climate where American biographical dramas, such as Vice, appear to be drawing most of the spotlight. However, as On The Basis Of Sex shows, Ginsburg's tale is one of inspiration and should be as well known as all the rest.

 

Rather than losing itself in the breadth of triumphs that have occurred throughout her life, the movie serves to centre on the very early stages of her career; focusing on her family life and the case which started her perusal of gender equality within the American legal system. Whilst, in essence, this is a case focusing on a dispute about tax, it is used as an interesting and poignant narrative tool from which to comment about the historical (and current) disparities throughout American law. Thanks to the writing and directing underpinning the film, this message is always well placed and at no point does it become lost in legal jargon. Furthermore, the message is presented in a way that never feels forced or ill-fitting to the narrative, meaning that upon exiting the cinema, the movie leaves you feeling positive and motivated by the characters and their story arc.

 

What also serves to bolster this film are the performances - in particular, those of the power couple of the film, Felicity Jones and Armie Hammer. With regards to Hammer’s part, his portrayal is endearing, with his support and affection for Ginsburg appearing as effortless and natural throughout the couple’s highs and lows. However, the true star of the show is rightfully Jones. Even when Ginsburg is at her most disillusioned, Jones’ performance exudes power and does justice to the formidable woman that Ginsburg is. Whilst Felicity Jones has produced many noteworthy roles in recent years, this serves to be one of her best and by extension inspiring.

 

Overall, On The Basis Of Sex provides an extremely heartfelt addition to the run of Biographical/Political dramas that have emerged recently and, much like Ruth Bader Ginsburg herself, this story and the movie itself should not be forgotten.

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First published in 1965, InQuire is the University of Kent student newspaper.

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