The BRWC Review: On The Basis Of Sex

On The Basis Of Sex

The problem in telling someone else’s story is where do you start and where do you end. Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a titan in every sense of the word and deserved a better film. Her story is one that needs to be told but the hard bits, the truly gritty parts, shouldn’t be romanticised. What we get in On The Basis of Sex is a thoroughly romanticised, happy look at the landmark case that led to sexual equality.

She’s a fighter and yet, On The Basis of Sex, leads us to believe that it is her daughter and husband that gave her the courage to pursue this case. It is clear that their marriage is avant garde for the time – an equal partnership – but let us not diminish Ruth’s achievements. We get to see a little of that aside from the courtroom set piece but even that doesn’t ignite as it should.

This is a formidable woman and yet she comes across as a timid mouse. Ruth Bader Ginsberg deserved better than this as did we all. This film is a timely reminder that the natural of things can change and should. Gender politics are explored in great overtures in the film but the best part of the film is when Ruth and her husband are walking back from a party and she says “all the little the brush offs matter” and it is at this point that you think “we’re in business” but no the film goes in the other direction.

That for me is the film. As a woman watching that is what predominately men couldn’t and possibly still don’t get those brush offs are the ones that sting. I wish that was the film that was made that showed how she dealt with that.  Instead, On The Basis Of Sex is a formulaic biopic which is clearly endorsed because the real Ruth Bader Ginsberg turns up a the end.

Felicity Jones and Armie Hammer both give worthy performances. Felicity has such spark but feels wasted in this film the script just didn’t leave very much room for her to really shine.

This is a dvd rather than going to watch in the cinema.

On the Basis of Sex was released in UK cinemas on 22 February.

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