Friday, 28 September 2018

RBG: Film Review

RBG: Film Review

Director: Betsy West, Julie Cohen

It's no surprise that in a post Me Too world, and a world where equality is less buzz word than enforced push for reality, that a film like RBG has blazed a trail.

Essentially, a straight down the line documentary (almost a little too dry in places to be frank), West and Cohen's look at what makes US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg tick is less about her, and more about the career path she's chosen.
RBG: Film Review

A small woman, wizened in her later years, but towering in her achievements, Ginsburg's often referred to as a Witch, icon and Anti-American in the same breath. But the energy that opens this doco, which sees Ginsburg working out to a pulsing rap beat, gives way to a rather traditional down-pat experience which looks at her past, her facing the rampant sexism of the 1950s workplace, and her desire to defy the patriarchy.

Early on, glimpses of Ginsburg's life provide a time capsule of a life gone by, and of challenges still in our current day world, but what West and Cohen do is partially jettison this in favour of defining the woman through her caseloads, and her trail-blazing legal cases aimed at getting parity and justice.

It's a commendable approach, but in truth, shots of court backgrounds, with audio from hearings brought to life on the screen in written form, do little to breathe life into this relative firecracker of a woman, and the film suffers a slightly didactic approach for it.
RBG: Film Review

More effective are the moments when she talks about her husband Marty, whose support was unswerving, and their shared devotion which deeply humanises her. Equally, scenes of Ginsburg revelling in the Saturday Night Live skits of which she's the subject of from Kate McKinnon offer a scene of a wicked mind, freshly enticed by a present day she's helped create.

In truth, Cohen and West deliver a degree of hagiography with this, calling on the recognition of the Notorious RBG and drawing attention to the pathetic distance the US has come - but as a doco about Ruth Bader Ginsburg, it feels like the portrait's not quite finished, even if the broad strokes of her work and life are in place to create an outline, rather than a fully fleshed out figure.

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