As often happens, this documentary about Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg arrives ahead of a biopic (On the Basis of Sex), where we’ll get to see the same events again as told by the director of Deep Impact.
Through speeches and interviews with Justice Ginsburg, along with her friends, family and colleagues, RBG tells the remarkable story of the judge with the biggest glasses since Dredd. A great legal mind and fearless defender of the marginalised, the Notorious RBG (named after fellow Brooklyn-born feminist scholar Biggie Smalls) graduated Harvard Law School in the 1950s as one of 9 women in a class of 500 men, all while caring for her sick husband, raising a child and subsisting on 2 hours sleep; a very different college experience to that of Brett Kavanaugh, who daren’t go by his initials lest he be mistaken for a Burger King.
A lovely celebration of a trailblazing icon, the film offers little in the way of criticism (other than her ill-advised public condemnation of Donald Trump and terrible cooking skills) but there doesn’t appear to be much to criticise. One needs to be pretty flawless to succeed in Washington as anything other than a rich white man, and the diminutive RBG has never been anything less than headstrong and diligent to the point of having to be physically dragged home from work by her husband Marty. Incidentally it’s nice to see a movie where it’s the man supporting his wife’s career for once.
After her appointment to the Supreme Court (where as a lawyer she’d already made a Deep Impact on gender equality, having won a number of discrimination cases) Justice Ginsberg became a sole dissenting voice as the political make-up of the Court shifted to the right, making her continued service as admirable and crucial now as ever. We see the astonishing 85-year-old working out, laughing at Kate McKinnon’s impression of her on SNL and even appearing in an opera. Directors Betsy West and Julie Cohen have put together an inspiring profile of a woman who, unlike her impressive collection of collars, never seems to be ruffled.