There are many ways to look at a story, and if you do some research on the reviews On The Basis of Sex you’ll find them: Ruth Bader Ginsberg as a feminist icon; the movie as a legal thriller, but you won’t find any describing it as a love story, and that’s exactly how I see it. Anything that makes me tear up and has a happy ending between people who love each other is a love story. And if you love that kind of story, you must see this, especially if you have a supportive partner and/or a daughter.
I had read an interview with Ginsberg’s nephew, who wrote the screenplay, about the making of this movie and how his aunt told him to “get Marty right.” She approved the script, and saw the movie, so he said he thinks he did Marty justice.
The movie portrays the Ginsbergs from their time as a young couple of Harvard law students with one child and no help who take care of each other to a middle-aged couple with two kids who still manage to share their passion for each other, as well as for equality and human rights.
This inside story of the behind the scenes legal maneuvering in the first gender discrimination case that set precedent for all the change that was to come after (and all the change that still needs to come decades later) is riveting in itself, especially with stellar performance by Justin Theroux as ACLU leader Mel Wulf and Kathy Bates as feminist ground-breaking lawyer Dorothy Kenyon (Ginsberg’s legal idol). However, for me, the heart of this film is the consistent loving support between Ruth and Marty (who cooks for the family and tells her to push forward when the whole rest of the male world conspires against her). The supportive love between the two of them is so strong that they have been able to pay it forward when they involve their budding feminist daughter (who actually confronts her mom to get out of the classroom –she’s a legal professor at Rutgers—and be the change she wants to see) in their preparation for their ground-breaking case and take her into the courtroom with them (I don’t know if that was true, but it works here).
If you’re a fan of “Parks and Rec” you’ll know what I mean when I say Marty Ginsberg (played by hunk Arnie Hammer no less) is right up there with Ben Wyatt as a near perfect dream man for me, and that’s a high compliment. Just remember that Ben Wyatt is fictional and Marty Ginsberg was real.
The movie opens to wide release today, Friday, January 11.