Cinema Review: RBG | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Monday, April 6th, 2020  


Studio: Magnolia Pictures
Directed by Julie Cohen and Betsy West

May 02, 2018 Web Exclusive
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Ruth Bader Ginsburg, second woman ever confirmed as a Supreme Court justice, is a progressive icon. A firebrand for women’s rights, known for incredibly poignant and powerful dissenting opinions when in the minority, she has been immortalized in pop culture by devotees often a quarter of her age. At 85-years old, she doesn’t show signs of stopping any time soon. RBG explores the life of the inspiring justice, as told by her friends, colleagues, opponents, and Ginsburg herself.

Directors Julie Cohen’s and Betsy West’s documentary brilliantly uses Ginsburg’s senate confirmation hearing as the central structure of the film, interspersing present-day interviews and current events with Ginsburg’s statements during the 1993 meeting. Each question and response from the hearing that the directors incorporate functions as the start of a new “chapter” in the film, delivering context before using interviews and archival footage to explore Ginsburg’s background, family life, or stance on myriad issues. Starting with Ginsburg’s humble beginnings, Cohen and West offer an intimate portrait of the towering progressive.

For many of us born well after the baby boom and summers of love, the modern political landscape has become a wake-up, a call to arms, and Ginsburg – through her powerful dissents – is seen as leading the charge. She speaks truths that at once are both so obvious and so urgent. Hers is the voice we clamor to hear, when others spout intolerance. Yet, RBG is a powerful reminder that Ginsburg, an octogenarian whose family still reminds her almost nightly to stop working and instead do things like eat and sleep, has been a progressive warrior her entire life. Ginsburg attended law school at Harvard and Columbia at a time when that was not something women did (or were thought to be able to do). She tied for first in her class while raising young children. Her work ethic and belief in what’s right propelled her into one of the most laudable careers, empowering her to speak for entire subsets of the population, typically underrepresented in the national dialogue. Deferential as it is fascinating, RBG is a fantastic, moving homage to its much-deserving subject.

Author rating: 8/10

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