The holiday movie season is jam-packed with big-budget blockbusters and each and every one of them are vying for your attention (and money) this month. Opening at the bitter end of December – alongside CGI & family-friendly heavy hitters like Warner Bros.’ Aquaman and Disney’s Mary Poppins Returns – are some truly impressive political dramas. Vice, starring Christian Bale as Dick Cheney, opens Christmas Day, and impressively leads the 2019 Golden Globe nominations list with six! But even before Cheney served as Vice President of the United States in the Bush Administration there was the charming, assured, and revolutionary true story of a brave young woman we now know as Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Named one of the ‘Truly Moving Pictures of the Year’ at the 2018 Heartland Film Festival, On the Basis of Sex also opens on Christmas Day. Telling Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s strenuous true life story during the 1950s-1970s – from when she was a young law student at Harvard University; the first tenured female professor at Columbia University; and finally, the successful and impactful lawyer she always longed to be – this movie, while chock-full of moving dialogue and witty one-liners (to separate the political from the emotional), does it’s very best to tell Ruth’s historical story in a way that both humanizes and rightfully idolizes her. The unique New York City case of “R.B.G vs. Inequality” remains an integral part of American History, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s legacy is braided within the constitutional rights and freedoms of American women because of it.

Directed by Mimi Leder (TV’s The Leftovers), this film is as feel-good as they come. Academy Award Nominee Felicity Jones (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) truly impresses in her role as Ruth Bader Ginsberg, and she invokes true emotion in both her struggles and triumphs, in which there are many. The rest of the supporting cast helps shine a light on her inspiring true story in a way that still elevates her accomplishments without watering them down. Armie Hammer (Call Me By Your Name) plays her husband, Martin Ginsberg, whose love and support for his wife (especially during a time where genders were expected to have their set roles) is uplifting to watch. Justin Theroux (Bumblebee), Sam Waterson (TV’s Grace & Frankie) and Kathy Bates (TV’s American Horror Story) all put their best foot forward in their respective roles, helping the film’s main plotlines and message rise to a galvanizing level.

Throughout the 2 hours of On the Basis of Sex, Ruth is heard repeating a quote by the great constitutional scholar Paul Freund: “the Court should never be influenced by the weather of the day but inevitably they will be influenced by the climate of the era.” This quote becomes a driving force for Ruth and is relevant even today. Ruth’s literal trials and tribulations manifest themselves into relatable and relevant social concepts that are a detriment to our society, many of which can be considered current affairs all these years later. Women’s rights and freedoms being at the top of the list. Without Ruth Bader Ginsberg (who went on to be a judge for the US Court of Appeals and is now a Supreme Court Justice), who knows how long it would have taken for women to be considered equal in America. This film is so much more than entertainment, it’s an essential, invigorating and important part of American History, and a must-see this holiday season. 

“It was a man’s world. So she changed it.”

4 Popcorn Kernels / 5



About the Author

Joey Viola is the Co-Founder of MoJo Toronto and an LGBTQ community leader who utilizes his passion and flair for the art of writing by bringing a fresh perspective in reviewing entertainment and advocating for equality, tolerance, and social/political justice.