Following an argument between Jane and Ruth, Jane retreats to her room and cranks up her stereo. Martin goes in to her room to comfort her, turns down the stereo, and tells her how Ruth grew up being taught to question everything. The song Jane was playing was "Question" by The Moody Blues. See more »
When Ruth is talking to Jane from her home office, the index cards that she has been taking down from her cork board reappear in subsequent shots. See more »
An army of trolls is rating this 1/10. Ignore them. This is a good movie.
For reasons that pass all understanding or sense of decency or a dozen other things, the internet trolls are piling on this movie. This is another lesson on how to interpret the "ratings" on IMdB. What I've figured out is this:
Look directly at the bar chart of the ratings (the histogram) which you get by clicking on the number of votes posted just below the average user rating.
And, look separately at the Male and Female marks distributions. Many times you'll see a difference by gender. Usually I think the women's votes are more accurate, but that's just me ...
For ANY movie whatsoever there is a noticeable little spike in the 1/10 bin. Those are the trolls. They don't even have to demonstrate that they've actually seen the movie - just trash it with some junk comments. But occasionally, a movie will rattle their little political cages and the "little spike" turns into a huge spike. Another well known example is Ghostbusters (2016) where you'll see the same thing -- and the trolls there are all male, poor offended little darlings.
And finally: cut out that bottom 1/10 bin entirely and take the average of the rest. That gets rid of the trolls in a single step. While you're at it, take the average from the female voters and the average from the male voters and and weight those equally to get a truly valid average rating. (That's because male voters on IMdB usually outnumber females by a big margin, but the actual moviegoing public is a lot closer to 50/50.)
A quicker thing to do is just to look at the median rating, not the average. That gets you close to the real center of the bar chart. For this movie, the median is 7 (men) or 8 (women) and I think that's pretty much on the mark.
OK, now about "On the Basis of Sex" itself. It's the early career of pioneering activists for women's (and human) rights Ruth Bader Ginsburg, later appointed to the Supreme Court and played here by Felicity Jones. The unreasonably tall, handsome Armie Hammer plays her husband and legal colleague Martin, who steadfastly supports Ruth in her crusade and works actively with her on the landmark case that highlights the plot and leads up to the courtroom drama at the end. There are many secondary parts played by excellent actors including Cathy Bates, Sam Waterston, Stephen Root ... lots of star power here that in a way is underused, because the Ginsburgs are the focus of most of the scenes.
Overall, it's a dynamite story about a key part of the social progress happening in the 1970's -- the painfully slow progress towards equality for women under the law. And it's well told. I liked that the pace of the film is measured, many scenes are allowed to develop without abrupt cutoffs, and of course Ruth's landmark final oration in front of the 10th Court of Appeals is gold. I admit I don't know how much of this history is exaggerated for dramatic effect, but it has real impact. Overall its style is similar to other recent movies about historical crusades for social justice like Spotlight (2015) and The Post (2017). Naturally enough, each of these makes one or two lead characters into singular heroes probably at the expense of many other contributors, but the choices for these leaders are all logical.
Felicity Jones is part of an excellent cohort of young English actresses who are all over the place these days (also including Claire Foy, Daisy Ridley, Emilia Clarke, Lily James among others). All doing great work, and Jones is great here at re-creating the nuances of Ruth Ginsberg's work.
As a final note -- I enjoyed this film a lot more than the recent A Star Is Born, which is getting all kinds of awards buzz. Too bad On the Basis of Sex looks like it's not going to be rewarded for generally high quality, if not over-the-top brilliance.
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