Movie ReviewsOn The Basis of Sex – All Hail Queen Ruth (Early Review)

dannythemoviemanDecember 24, 2018

That movie that makes you want to get out there and conquer the world – this is it, chief.

Synopsis: The film tells an inspiring and spirited true story that follows young lawyer Ruth Bader  Ginsburg as she teams with her husband Marty to bring a groundbreaking case before  the U.S. Court of Appeals and overturn a century of gender discrimination. The feature  will premiere in 2018 in line with Justice Ginsburg’s 25th anniversary on the Supreme Court. (Universal Pictures)

Starring: Felicity Jones, Armie Hammer, and Justin Theroux

Writer: Daniel Stiepleman

Director: Mimi Leder

Rating: PG (Canada)/PG-13 (United States)

Running Time: 120mins


On one hand, On the Basis of Sex is being made out to be notably average – this is from not only the critics who are putting it out to be this way, the general audiences minimal interest in the project and the truly non-special marketing campaign that went along with it. Every year, there’s one movie that is criminally under-looked and becomes one of the more emotional movie watching experiences for that year – and On the Basis of Sex falls under that category perfectly. There is so much that works so well here, so much so that there are too many to mention.

It’s fair to speak on the story first, because with a film of this type, it’s important to have a story that maintains an emotional connection between the viewer and its characters – and On the Basis does exactly that. What could have easily been a slow, run-of-the-mill story that brought nothing fresh to bring to the table, this is a film that utilized its law based background to its advantage. Not only is the primary, tax-based case of this film truly enthralling, but it makes everything that surrounds it feel so much more high-stakes and entertaining. As you may just be able to tell, this kind of is a cheesy and repetitive feeling subject matter. But thankfully, the emotional pull and the way it speaks to its audience feels unlike it’s cliche structure.

This is an ensemble film by nature, but a character piece by heart. The supporting performances are immaculate and quite important to the story, but there’s one actress who is in command – Jones as Ruth Bader Ginsburg herself. Yet to have a performance that defines her range and brilliance as an actor, Jones takes on this performance with such dedication that it is so in line with Ginsburg and her primary focus and character, that it’s easy to forget that you are watching a movie.

The supporting roles bring us performances that are just as good, but in essence, their purpose was to build her character up. Hammer, as expected, is brilliant here as Ginsburg’s husband Marty. He doesn’t take on a transformation of any sort, but he’s charismatic as hell and it shows here too. Theroux does however, take on a bit of a transformation, and is his most memorable yet here – doing an incredible job of balancing the equal cockiness and sympathy of Mel Wulff.

On the Basis of Sex isn’t something that is shockingly fresh or new. But, it is one of the stronger examples of the idea that a story doesn’t have to be new to get you intrigued into it’s subject. It falls under a ton of tropes, but it uses them to the strongest effect it could’ve – making for a truly emotional, personal and thrilling adventure into the world of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Score: 8/10

*On The Basis of Sex opens in select cities on Christmas Day before expanding in January*

Follow me on twitter @daniel_azbel and on letterboxd @danthemovieman.


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