On the Basis of Sex Review: How RBG Became Notorious


Hannah Jaros, Staff Writer

It was Saturday night when my sister finally agreed to see On the Basis of Sex with me. I was thrilled, as I had waited actual months to see it. The film is about Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a Supreme Court Justice who has fought for women’s rights throughout the span of her six decade legal career. Its opening scene is one that brilliantly captures the essence of the entire film: “Ten Thousand Men of Harvard” (Harvard’s fight song penned in the early 1900s) plays as identical white men, clad in insipid suits, march up the steps of the university with Ginsburg, who stands out in her striking blue skirt suit. She’s portrayed as being one of the only women in her Harvard law class. This sets up the rest of the film and foreshadows the great struggles she would have to overcome.

The focus of the movie is on her early career, when Ginsburg was a newfound law school graduate. Out in the real world, she was continually denied jobs, dismissed, and insulted because of her gender. Her brilliance is displayed through her continuous debating and use of lengthy legal terms, which overall makes the film hard to follow but still adds to its charm.

On the Basis of Sex stars Felicity Jones as Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Armie Hammer as her husband Martin. The film does not only a fantastic job of capturing the elegance of RBG and the legacy of her legal success, but also her marriage and personal life. The relationship between the couple is captured beautifully on-screen; Ginsburg’s husband takes care of the house and is always supportive of her goals. It blurs the lines between gender roles, (a notion that was unheard of during Ginsburg’s time) making the marriage more complex and concrete. However, the relationship between the pair might have been a bit too perfect; it is not often that you encounter a marriage without any complications, especially with two working parents of teenagers. Hammer epitomized the perfect husband, but the flawlessness of the character is traced back to the writing.

Ruth Bader Ginsberg is an absolute American icon, and overall, On the Basis of Sex is a wonderfully empowering film for everyone who watches.