Ruth Bader Ginsberg is having a good year on film with the release of the documentary RBG and now On the Basis of Sex, the story of her first big court victory for equal rights. Rarely does one get the truth and the fiction of their life as bookends for public consumption.
On the Basis of Sex is that rare biopic that manages to stay true to its cliches while liberating them at the same time.
The RBG (Felicity Jones) here is super lawyer, mom and wife rolled into one. She is a hurricane of energy and righteousness so strong no manly judge, no man made law, no time honored patriarchy and fraternal tradition can stand against the gale force of her incontrovertible research, preparation and her total command of the court room.
Her allies and enemies are wowed or bowed by her demands for equality.
Her husband (dreamboat Armie Hammer) treats her equally, splits the chores equally and fights by her side equally, even willing to give her equal credit for an idea that was his and that became the first winds of change for the notorious RBG tornado that sweeps her into a unanimous Supreme Court seat.
The other judges are bowed into complacency when her brilliant legal mind and arguments are sound and a little bit sexy in a dominating way, as it is implied by the slightly sexually satisfied grins on two of the chief magistrates in the court room climax that ends Sex.
It is not quite hagiography, but I can’t think of the word for the stories about great and good judges and lawyers. Just don’t insult her achievements by saying it’s a great woman’s story.
All photos courtesy of Focus Features.