2 hr. 0 min. | Rated M | Offensive language.
Starring: Felicity Jones, Armie Hammer, Justin Theroux, Kathy Bates, Sam Waterston, Jack Reynor, Cailee Spaeny
With the very good RBG still showing on a few screens around the country, I guess it's only timely that On the Basis of Sex, Mimi Leder's biopic of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, should turn up in our cinemas as well.
Had On the Basis of Sex not turned out so well and had Felicity Jones (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) not arrived with such a seamless inhabitation of the woman who would become a Supreme Court Justice, then perhaps the distributors would not have dared risk the comparison.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg was born and grew up in Brooklyn, New York. She became one of very few women to attend Harvard Law School, edited the Harvard Law Review, graduated first-equal in her year and then went on to, well, change the world.
Next to Jones, Armie Hammer, an actor I have been dismissing as a jawline in search of a personality for far too long now, does good things as Ginsburg's beloved husband Martin, and Cailee Spaeny (Vice) plays daughter Jane in a role explicitly written to channel Ginsburg's impact on the world outside and on succeeding generations.
If you have seen RBG (and you should, just to be reminded how historically recent and fragile the rights we take for granted are) then perhaps the thought of seeing On the Basis of Sex seems a little redundant. At 10am on my only "day off" for the week, there were definitely places I would rather have been.
So I'm grateful that On the Basis of Sex did such a warm and likeable job of putting some flesh on the bones of the story.
Mimi Leder (The Peacemaker) – who knows better than most what it takes to persevere in a male-dominated industry – directs Jones and co around the track with a very watchable briskness and efficiency, while trusting us to follow the legal battle for gender equality that defined the early part of Ginsburg's career without us needing to be spoon-fed the facts.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a remarkable, unrepeatable human. On the Basis of Sex is an affectionate and overdue tribute to her.