By now I should be used to the sad, sour feeling left by films about triumphant, powerful women that were conceived when Hillary Clinton’s ascension to the presidency was all but inevitable (see Battle of the Sexes, The Post, and Confirmation), but the first trailer for the Ruth Bader Ginsburg biopic On the Basis of Sex has nonetheless left me feeling uneasy. Not only because of the current state of the Supreme Court, but also because it looks downright bad.
The film, directed by Mimi Leder (who, like Ginsburg, is a Jewish woman from New York City), follows a young Ginsburg “as she teams with her husband Marty to bring a groundbreaking case before the U.S. Court of Appeals and overturn a century of gender discrimination,” Collider describes. This sounds interesting, sure, but the trailer makes the project—which stars Felicity Jones, who replaced Natalie Portman—seem like a cheap, forgettable TV movie. To quote my coworker Hazel Cills, “I also can’t tell what year it’s supposed to be.”
From the music (the use of a painfully on-the-nose “Can’t Knock Me Down” and a jaunty intro piece straight out of a romcom trailer are especially tough to hear), to the dialogue (Sam Waterston scoffing, “They think gender equality is a civil right?!??!” and Jones declaring, “You don’t get to tell me when to quit!”), to the casting of Armie Hammer (phoning it in) and Justin Theroux (mustachioed), I’m just in awe that this thing has prime award season real estate. It’s due in theaters as a limited release in late December.