She’s an icon. She’s been parodied by Kate McKinnon on SNL. She is despised. She is revered. She has no peer. Finally, a documentary tells the truth from all sides about Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who became the second female ever appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court. Since that momentous event she’s still going strong at 84 — 25 years later after her appointment to the bench by President Bill Clinton. As directors Julie Cohen and Betsy West show in RBG, that move was not only groundbreaking, it was necessary.
As I say in my video review above, we learn Ginsburg appeared previously arguing cases before the High Court on upholding women’s rights of one kind or another; she lost only once out of several trips there to achieve the ultimate verdict of justice. The film chronicles the daily life of the indomitable judge: We see her working out with weights and push-ups that her contemporaries can only marvel at (as one says, “we not only can’t get up, we can’t even get down“), and we see her dedication to whatever case she is deciding, often staying up until 4 AM, night owl that she is. The film also shows her lifelong effort to fight for women’s rights issues, a quest she has taken up on from her perch on the High Court. We also see the personal side, with her unquenching love for opera — even going so far as to appear in one on a very exclusive stage.
The diminutive associate justice is anything but small in stature among her colleagues, and the film details her close friendship with the late Antonin Scalia, someone almost always on the polar opposite of her opinion, but a person to whom she could relate on a human level. Most moving in the film, which debuted at Sundance, we follow the lifelong romance between Ginsburg and her husband Marty, an affable man to whom she was attracted when he became the only male turned on by her smarts while they were in college. It was a marriage challenged early on by the onset of his ill-timed cancer that she helped him through, and vice versa when she herself became stricken with the disease a couple of times.
There is so much to take in here, and the filmmakers have done an admirable job making this a human and rich portrait of a true icon and pop culture phenomenon who keeps on keeping on. There is much to admire about the person (aka The Notorious RBG), and much to admire about the movie. Magnolia Pictures bows it via a platform release Friday.
Do you plan to see RBG? Let us know what you think.