It's nice that a legend gets to see her life portrayed on screen while she is still
having a pulse. I kept thinking of Thurgood Marshall also as an advocate for
racial equality and his portrayal by Chadwick Boseman in the film Marshall.
Both On The Basis Of Sex and Marshall take a couple of people who would serve
on the Supreme Court and tell of cases in their years as advocates. On The Basis
Of Sex does Ruth Bader Ginsburg justice.
As the movie shows it wasn't always easy. After attending Harvard Law School
after undergraduating at Cornell, Ruth Bader married Martin Ginsburg who was
a year ahead of her. When Martin gets a job in New York City, she goes to her
law school dean Erwin Griswold a pillar of the legal establishment played here
by Sam Waterston. Progressive in many ways Griswold did in fact get the
first women admitted to Harvard Law. But he did believe women ought to know their place at home and in the courtroom. Jack McCoy, Waterston is not
in this film.
Simply because of her sex she could not get a slew of jobs that husband Martin
would have gotten easily. She had her own dometic crisis as well when Martin
played by Armie Hammer came down with cancer. She was thrust into the
role of breadwinner as well as homemaker. And the bread at times was only
With that kind of attitude and disdain shown her Ginzburg says this has to all
change and that women have to achieve real equality. Oddly enough it's the
case of a man played by Chris Mulkey who was denied an income tax deduction
for hiring a home attendant for his mother and was forced to stay home and
tend to her. Mulkey is a bachelor and he did not want mom going to some
substandard nursing home. On the basis of a man challenging gender roles
Ginzburg made her first mark.
Felicity Jones of Great Britain played Ruth Bader Ginzburg a girl from Brooklyn.
Not only Brooklyn, but my part of Brooklyn as I read she attended James Madison High School which was two blocks from where I lived. Nice Jewish
girls from Brooklyn make their mark whether its Barbra Streisand in music or
Ruth Bader Ginzburg in the law. There's such passion in her performance I
can't believe that Jones will be ignored in the Oscar sweepstakes..
Another who should not be ignored is Cailee Spaeny the young actress who
plays daughter Jane Ginzburg. At first glance she looks like your average
teen girl of the times. But this young lady has read Gloria Steinem and
believes in direct action far more than Mom does. Her scene with Mom with
those construction workers is a classic. Hope Spaeny gets some recognition
in the Supporting Actress category, she really nails it in her role.
Good gray Sam Waterston as pillar of the legal establishment was one kind of
foe. But there is the climax scene at the 10th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals
an actor Jack Raynor shows how deeply sinister opposition to change could be.
One thing the New Right has always been good at is recognizing threats to its
perceived view of society. Recently one of their religious right legal organizations lobbied against including LGBTQ people in anti-lynching bill in
Congress. They reasoned that if you simply made it wrong to kill people on
the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity they might actually
ask society to treat them with dignity and respect, legally, economically, and
Raynor with that smug arrogance that the religious right has says that the
foundations of society as they see it will be torn asunder if Ginzburg's client
wins this case. Felicity Jones who has been told to stick to facts and precedents and keep her passion in check gets up and just demolishes Raynor.
With passion in check, Jones impresses those Appellate Judges with the facts
but the restrained passion is there. She sure impressed me.
Hope they'll be some Oscar consideration for Jones, for Hammer and for
Spaeny. Most of all in that field of 10 for On The Basis Of Sex.
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