January 16, 2019

Two Political Biopics. One Adoring, One Scathing.

“Two films open this week with titles that make them sound a lot sexier than they are: On the Basis of Sex, and Vice.

They’re both biopics — Sex about a liberal Supreme Court Justice, Vice a conservative vice president. But they differ in ways that go far deeper than politics.

On The Basis Of Sex

You know exactly what you’re getting from the opening moment, when a very young Ruth Bader Ginsberg (Felicity Jones) strides into Harvard Law School surrounded by a sea of grey, black, and navy business suits.

The year is 1956, and at first, she’s the only person you see in heels (that’s cinematic shorthand; times were different then). When the law dean hosts a dinner party for the nine Harvard women in a class of hundreds, and asks them to go around the table and explain why they’re occupying a place at Harvard that could have gone to a man, you’re encouraged to bristle, just as Ruth does.”

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