RBG (2018)

<strong class="MovieTitle">RBG</strong> (2018)

(On TV, February 2019) These are weird times we’re living in, and such a chaotic period call for unlikely heroes. So it’s been both amusing and comforting to see the last few years bring eighty-something Ruth Bader Ginsburg to pop-culture stardom, with young people and memes transforming “The Notorious R.B.G.” Supreme Court Justice into one of the few beacons of progressivism in a right-leaning political environment. RBG uses that “RGB mania” as its initial springboard into an exploration of the judge’s life and views, from battling early discrimination as a female law student in the 1950s to her involvement in landmark decisions on gender equality. She shows up in some of the film’s footage as a sit-down interview subject, but much of RBG is spent talking to various other people (including Bill Clinton, explaining the process through which he appointed her to the Court). There’s quite a bit of archival footage—including her confirmation hearings—mixed in between more contemporary material. The film does offer a strong and intelligible portrait of her role in rolling back gender discrimination in the United States. RBG also features a good primer on the changing nature of US politics and Supreme Court members, forcing her from the centre to the left. The result can be surprisingly funny, inspiring and touching at times, especially in the segments that focus on the role that her husband played in her life. [November 2019: While a great documentary, RBG is probably best seen alongside On the Basis of Sex, a fictional take on Bader-Gingsburg’s early years that almost perfectly complements the material covered here.]

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