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“RBG” Ruth Bader Ginsburg




Review by John Delia, Sr.

More of a biography of the Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the documentary RBG comes to movie screens this week. The activist and liberal gets her day on the big screen showing her rise to the highest court in the land and the cases she was most noted. It’s an interesting film to watch, especially in a more educational setting rather than an entertainment one.

A champion for gender rights, minorities and the common man, Associate Justice Ginsburg has been the second woman to hold a seat since the Associate Justice Sandra Day O’Conner retired in 2006. Appointed by President Bill Clinton in 1993 she took office in August of that year. She is one of the three female justices on the current Supreme Court today including Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. Her views lean toward the left of the court politically as most noted by her opinions on rights of mother to choose abortion and other liberal cases before the high court.

U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in RBG, directed by Betsy West and Julie Cohen. Courtesy Magnolia Pictures

The film follows her early life prior to the Supreme Court that includes, early schooling, her Jewish parents, law schools and marriage. Directors Julie Cohen and Betsy West make the film more somewhat historical in some scenes, weighing heavily on the decisions she has made and written opinions on cases brought before the justices. Her fight for women’s rights is showcased from her admission into Harvard Law School throughout her career that follows.

Associate Justice Ginsburg in RBG, a Magnolia Pictures release. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.

Like most documentaries they tend to be informational rather than an expose on a person as it shows with RBG. The only really entertaining “moments” come with statements and labels by her followers who have made her a pop icon with t-shirts, tattoos and other fan based paraphernalia. Most of the garb and decorative ink shown in the film centers on her fight for women’s rights.

8. Julie Cohen and Betsy West, directors of RBG, a Magnolia Pictures release. Photo Credit: © Myles Pettengill. Photo Courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.

I like the depth that Cohen and West go to bringing Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to the screen and it should please her followers. However, showcasing a single person is more of a biography (Biopic) than a documentary. It also tends to be a bit one sided when it comes to popular decisions (voting and opinions) regarding the cases brought before the Supreme Court than those in which she dissented. Maybe if they had made their documentary about one specific case it would have made it more dramatic giving reason for all audiences to see the film.

FINAL ANALYSIS: A very good biography, but a bit routine. (3 out of 5 Stars)

Additional Film Information
Cast: Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Directed and written by: Julie Cohen and Betsy West
Genre: Biopic (biography film)
MPAA Rating: PG
Running Time: 1 hr. 37 min.
Release Date: May 11, 2018
Distributed by: Magnolia Pictures

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