Watching On the Basis of Sex with an invested audience was quite an interactive experience. The film is fantastic, and the viewer feedback was instant. I’ve never seen people cheer and jeer throughout a movie with such passion. Their enthusiasm merely proves how incredibly inspiring and empowering Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s story is to so many people over the past few generations.
The film engagingly chronicles the challenges young Ruth (Felicity Jones) faces as she overcomes gender bias throughout Harvard law school, settles for a career as a law professor because no firm would hire her, and makes a name for herself by championing the need for gender equality in United States’ Laws. With the support of her devoted and loving husband, Martin (Armie Hammer), she tackles these prejudiced laws one by one – beginning with the groundbreaking case featured in On the Basis of Sex.
“…makes a name for herself by championing the need for gender equality in United States’ Laws.”
By capturing the perfect combination of romantic comedy and historical drama, Daniel Stiepleman beautifully brings his aunt and uncle’s exemplary relationship and esteemed accomplishments to life. Ruth and Marty are the ultimate power couple because they work as a team in all aspects of their lives. Since everything they do is out of love and respect, it doesn’t even feel like one is sacrificing something for the other. Marty is happily domestic, preparing meals and bouncing the little ones on his knee. Ruth remains fearless and poised when dealing with demeaning men who underestimate her intellect, wit, and skill.
Young Ginsberg’s impassioned plea before the court reminds us how far we’ve had to come over the years. It also encourages a gut-check for those who begin to fall behind the times. As she brilliantly argues, the law must reflect the culture and people of this great nation. Outdated and prejudiced laws only do us a disservice. In a genius move, the Ginsbergs opened the door to gender equality by demonstrating how the law was prejudiced against a single man who cared for his mother.
“…Jones exudes the essence of girl power in all its glory, capturing Ruth’s intellect, grace and conviction.”
According to the law, he was not entitled to receive a caretaker tax credit because bachelors are not considered caretakers. Why should this man be penalized for being a good son to his ailing mother? The prosecution’s argument is laughably small-minded, staking validation in the fact that these gender roles have existed for hundreds of years. Not only that, but they act like these limitations were established to take burdens off of women’s shoulders. It is enraging to fathom (as the audience’s grumbles attest). Ginsberg’s rebuttal is epic, and viewers rejoice with ecstatic applause when she states her case. There was a palpable feeling in the air, and resounding cheers echoed through the theater as the film concluded.
Jones and Hammer are absolutely mesmerizing. Jones exudes the essence of girl power in all its glory, capturing Ruth’s intellect, grace and conviction. Hammer charms as Martin, the kind of man who can be equally strong, caring and vulnerable. Their relationship shows us how men and women excel when they see each other as equals and work as a team. On the Basis of Sex is the kind of invigorating and hopeful film that we desperately need during these trying and frustrating times. We are reminded to listen to each other, respectfully fight for justice, and reasonably reassess laws based on today’s values.
On the Basis of Sex (2018) Directed by Mimi Leder. Written by Daniel Stiepleman. Starring Felicity Jones, Armie Hammer, Justin Theroux, Kathy Bates, Sam Waterston, Stephen Root, Cailee Spaeny.
10 out of 10 stars
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On the Basis of Sex hits theaters nationwide on January 11, 2019.