REVIEW: US Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Early Years In ‘On The Basis Of Sex’

Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the basis of sex

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the Notorious R.B.G., was the second female Justice appointed to the US Supreme Court.

She was a lifelong advocate for gender equality and women’s rights, the first Supreme Court Justice to officiate at a same-sex wedding and in her 85th year remains on the court despite recent health issues.


She deserves an outstanding biopic of her trailblazing life and career.

On the Basis of Sex is not that movie.

However, Mimi Leder’s feature is serviceable enough, documenting Ginsburg’s pre-Supreme Court career as she lays the foundation for her future on the bench, a contribution unmatched in American legal history.

Introduced as a young Harvard law student, Ruth is one of only a handful of women in a class dominated by men. The women are challenged as to why they deserve seats in the class.

The audience, of course, are immediately on the side of the women and the film’s feminist stance strikes the perfect note.

The production is a little void of momentous set pieces — there’s only so much can be done within the walls of a court room — but the case used to prove her worth as a lawyer is interesting enough to keep the audience invested.

It centres around a male caregiver denied a tax deduction for looking after his elderly mother. The law at the time only accepted women as caregivers.

Ginsburg’s determination to tear down discrimination makes for an interesting enough second act.

It hits the right note for today’s audiences and is buoyed by a committed performance from Felicity Jones as Ginsburg.

The British actress may not always have a firm grasp of Ginsburg’s Brooklyn twang but she’s a lovely presence, nonetheless, capturing the fire and the spirit of the Notorious R.B.G.

Perhaps the film is best summed up in the words of reviewer Diane Pershing who said, “Not a masterpiece, but definitely worthwhile.”

On The Basis of Sex is in Australian cinemas now. Watch the trailer below:


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