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on the basis of sex

DIRECTOR: mimi leder (thick as thieves)
STARRING: felicity jones, armie hammer, justin theroux, cailee spaeny

REVIEWER: purdie jenkins


Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a struggling attorney and new mother who faces adversity and numerous obstacles in her fight for equal rights. When Ruth takes on a groundbreaking tax case with her husband, attorney Martin Ginsburg, she knows it could change the direction of her career and the way the courts view gender discrimination.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg is becoming a household name as her accomplishments are becoming more celebrated. Last year RBG, a documentary of her life’s achievements was released (check out our RBG review here), and now On the Basis of Sex is a film following her starting in the legal profession.


The film jumps straight into Ruth’s life, she’s already married with a daughter, and she is about to start her journey into law at Harvard University. We follow her through the journey of being one of only nine women in her first year classes through the struggles of finding a job once she graduated to her first case as a practising lawyer. It’s not all lecture halls and courtrooms, there are more intimate moments of her life as well.


The acting was brilliant, from family to coworkers, students and opposing lawyers, every actor held their own, which is never easy in a biopic about a still-living person. Felicity Jones shines as a young Ruth Bader Ginsburg, capturing her passion and persistence, her determination to do what is right in her own way. Partnered by Armie Hammer who brings the charismatic, loyal Martin Ginsburg to life; I wonder if Ruth herself had a say in who played her late husband as she made a very handsome choice.


Armie and Felicity have onscreen chemistry that captures the genuine love of Ruth and Martin. Cailee Spaeny as their daughter also shines, her modern teenage rebel counterbalances the serious Ruth.


For a legal drama, On the Basis of Sex assumes the audience is able to read between the lines, time jumps aren’t jerky or confusing. The moments of humour were well received, most of the laughter coming from what seems like completely ridiculous notions of gender roles.


A wonderful legal drama film, a great watch for anyone who is interested in legal history, Ruth Bader Ginsburg or the feminist movement.


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On the Basis of Sex is available on DVD and digital from all good disc and digital retailers. 

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