Movie Review: On the Basis of Sex


The new movie “On the Basis of Sex” is not really a biography of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, but instead in the first 1/3 of this film shows Ginsberg’s early college years at Harvard Law School as a married woman with a child, her husband Martin Ginsberg played very well by actor Armie Hammer. Most impressive about Ruth Ginsberg in her college years is that due to her husbands cancer diagnosis, she attended all of his law classes as well as her own, to keep him on schedule with his law degree. Not only did she graduate Harvard, help her husband and raise a young child, but she also finished first in her graduating class. Despite her great accomplishments at Harvard, she faced nothing but condescending discrimination in the New York City job market, because she was a woman. Eventually, her only alternative was to become a law professor because she had no other offers from any law firm. While watching this movie it was easy to understand the extreme anger Ginsberg must have faced after so many years of never getting what she rightfully deserved.

What I thought was unusual about this film is that the the remaining part of this story is about an obscure legal case in Colorado involving a single man and caretaker for his mother, was denied a tax write off. The only reason for this tax deduction denial was because he was a man and the reason for this was the title of caretaker always implied a woman. Amazingly this obscure case was the first landmark and the beginning of a whole series of supreme court arguments for equal rights championed by Ginsberg. Over many years the discrimination of women within unfair and outdated laws were overturned. I thought the idea to center almost this entire movie on this one case and the background and arguments leading to the final trial was unusual, but effective. The ending scenes and arguments to the Colorado Supreme Court was very impressive with some great acting by Felicity Jones who played Ruth Bader Ginsberg. In my opinion Jones should receive an Academy Award nomination for best actress, but unfortunately due to no nomination for the Golden Globe, this is probably unlikely.

The Rotten Tomatoes reviews for On the Basis of Sex are a very surprisingly average 71%. I would give this movie at least an 85% and I give this film a strong recommendation.

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