“On the Basis of Sex,” though it doesn’t quite summarize the brilliance of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, is a curation of beautifully woven narratives which redefine what it means to be a feminist in modern times. Through powerful storytelling and extraordinary attention to detail, the film leaves a bold aftertaste of empowerment.
Focusing primarily on Ginsburg, the movie opens with a striking scene in which a young Ginsburg, portrayed by Felicity Jones, enters Harvard for her first day of law school in a class comprised of mostly men. The movie follows Ginsburg through her tribulations relating to her husband Martin’s health and her maturing as a lawyer.
After Ginsburg graduates at the top of her class, she struggles to find a firm that will accept her as a legitimate lawyer because of her gender before finally becoming a professor. Her relationship with her supportive husband, a tax lawyer, is also built upon, and he proves to be an instrumental figure in her career. An ambitious and hardworking professor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg represents a male caretaker denied a tax deduction with hopes of establishing a precedent for future cases.
Jones’ performance is passionate as she explores Ginsburg’s struggle against traditional gender roles and journey to achieve legal equality of the sexes. Jones offers emotional depth to a figure that is often viewed as stone faced. This new interpretation of Ginsburg was not only well performed, but well written, too. The script was pointed, concise, and made overt social commentary. Though the story was dramatized and provided a narrow look into Ginsburg’s achievements, it strikes a balance between touching and inspirational. Additionally, the costume design is captivating, and the designers utilize color to enhance the plot of the movie.
Few films could fully encompass Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s accomplishments and triumphs, and this attempt is no exception. I would have liked the script to be more realistic, as many of the events were disproportionately exaggerated. However, the movie is representative of the changing times and a reminder of how far the feminist movement has come since then. “On the Basis of Sex” is sure to leave an imprint on any viewer and is a notable addition to the plethora of movies centered around Ginsburg.