Ruth Bader Ginsburg is one of the most distinguished legal minds to ever preside within the Supreme Court. A pivotal figure in establishing women’s rights, Ginsburg – or RBG, as her fans have taken to calling her – has become a pop culture icon, affectionately getting referenced in programs like Saturday Night Live. Her accomplishments deserve celebration and remembrance, especially in the era of the #MeToo movement, and a biopic released last year called On the Basis of Sex does just that. The film was directed by Mimi Leder and written by Daniel Stiepleman, and it offers a solemn look at Ginsburg’s early career.


Felicity Jones stars as Ginsburg while Armie Hammer co-stars as her husband, the late Martin D. Ginsburg. On the Basis of Sex concerns itself with the pair during their college and post-college years, providing a (sometimes not perfectly accurate) snapshot of their struggles and mutually supportive relationship. Basis earnestly portrays the institutional sexism RBG was faced with during those years, depicting law professors and prospective employees who were dismissive of her credentials simply on the basis of her sex. Initially barred from following her true calling, Ruth settled for working as a professor.

However, her passion for equality drove her out of classrooms to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals to defend Charles Moritz (Chris Mulkey) in a tax case regarding his status as a single caregiver. Moritz v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue isn’t Ginsberg’s most iconic case, but it was an interesting session to examine here nonetheless. Unfortunately, Basis is a straightforward affair; its cinematography and score work but are forgettable, and as a whole the movie lacks the boldness and wit that defined its subject. RBG’s revolutionary career is nevertheless more than capable of providing a gripping narrative on its merits alone, and On the Basis of Sex is worth watching for those who want a glimpse of her story. A bonus commentary track and three short special features delve deeper into the making of Basis, explaining how important RBG was to the production crew as well as their dedication in faithfully honoring her.

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