Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg recently landed in the hospital after breaking three ribs, mere weeks ahead of her 25th anniversary on the Supreme Court, which will be celebrated by Focus Features’ On The Basis Of Sex. The first trailer was very paint-by-the-numbers in establishing Felicity Jones as young Ginsberg taking on a man’s world, yet in this new offering, the fiery RBG personality takes center stage in the opening moments. When then-Harvard Law Dean Erwin Griswold (Sam Waterston) welcomes his new charges at a dinner, he lectures all young women who are present for taking a spot that could be occupied by a man. This doesn’t go well for him, as one could imagine.
Ginsberg seizes the opportunity to introduce herself while mentioning that her husband, Marty (Armie Hammer), also goes to Harvard Law. “So I can learn more about his work,” she sarcastically answers when Griswold asks why she’s there. “So I can be a more patient and understanding wife.” (*Mic drop*) Further down the line and as Ginsberg prepares to challenge a century of gender discrimination to a U.S. Court of Appeals, we see Griswold chuckling at the idea that gender equality is a civil right. Arguably worse, Mel Wulf (Justin Theroux), the legal director of the ACLU, tells her that it’s time to “get your emotions in check.” To which she fires back, “You first.”
Ginsberg, of course, always railed against the idea that women were too emotional to be lawyers or anything that they wanted to be. In that spirit, she penned the 1973 American Bar Association Journal article, “The Need For The Equal Rights Amendment,” and the film will see her take on this and other challenges while fighting conservative forces who are fretting over working women (allegedly) eroding the American family.
Years ago, Natalie Portman was set to play Ginsberg, but Jones appears to have easily slid into the role. And the film couldn’t be more timely, since at age 85, Ginsberg’s feeling the pressure to hang onto her Supreme Court spot while Roe v. Wade‘s fate hangs in the balance of the new court dynamic. RBG was also the subject of a popular 2018 documentary that women watched in droves.
On The Basis Of Sex will arrive in select theaters on Christmas.