AFI FEST Review: “On the Basis of Sex”

“On the Basis of Sex” Review

Ruth Bader Ginsburg is an icon and a legend in our country. On the Basis of Sex starring Felicity Jones as Ruth tells the story of her struggles and rise to where she is. The film begins with her first year in law school at Harvard and ends with her ascension to the Supreme Court of the United States. What the film focuses on is the time in between that, the injustices she had to face, and the hurdles she had to overcome to get where she is today.

Felicity Jones as Ruth is perfect casting. She has taken a very iconic role and made it work so well. She so effortlessly balances the different aspects of her character from the loving wife, a mother struggling to raise her children and the unwavering lawyer, hellbent on doing what is right. Armie Hammer as her husband, Martin, is a joy to watch. His support, love, and admiration for Ruth shine throughout the film. Felicity and Armie have unbelievable chemistry in this film. There’s a scene where Martin is emotional and Ruth climbs in bed with him to hold him and the scene is just gripping. It is one of the most moving scenes in the entire film, and it relies solely on the chemistry of those two actors.

The rest of the cast is stellar with great performances from Justin Theroux, Kathy Bates, Sam Waterston, Cailee Spaeny, and more. They all bring their best to the film, and their passion shines through. Cailee Spaeny as a reasonably new actress with only a few films under her belt holds her own in this film as Ruth’s daughter, Jane. Her performance packs all the punch that we need in the revolutionary figure that Jane is. She stands tall next to very established and well-known actors and proves her skill as an actress.

Where I think the film has issues is with the pacing of the story. The beginning starts very strong and with a punch showing the little jabs and discrimination that Ruth must face in law school, but where it loses steam is in the middle. It gets very wrapped up in the time in between her law school completion and her finding the case that would define and launch her career. It seemed to drag just a bit during that time and could stand to have a bit of an edit. Despite this, I think the film’s purpose and message come out strong.

On the Basis of Sex beautifully highlights the life and career of an icon in our lifetime. Ruth Bader Ginsburg has changed the history of this country with her work, and despite all the hardships and struggles she faced, she never gave up. On the Basis of Sex is an inspirational and moving film, perfectly timed to remind us that despite everything against us, we can still fight for what is right. On the Basis of Sex brings the story of one woman to the forefront, reminding us of the work that still needs to be done. Her story inspires, her legacy lives on, and her power is in her words and that unwavering resolve to do right.

Written by
Ashley Menzel is an avid film lover and lives in Los Angeles, CA. She loves foreign films and dramas and reading books that have film adaptations. Her favorite movie of all time is One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. She loves Doctor Who, Supernatural, iZombie, and Grimm.

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