Ruth Bader Ginsberg is the second woman to serve on the US Supreme Judicial Court and, at 85-years, the oldest justice on that esteemed bench. How this remarkable woman became a true American cultural icon is the subject of documentary filmmakers Julie Cohen and Betsy West - the notorious “RBG.”
Laura's Review: B+
Opening with a flurry of disparaging remarks denoting the type of obstacles faced by their subject, Julie Cohen and Betsy West quickly shift gears for their affectionate and affecting portrait of Ruth Bader Ginsberg, the second woman nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court. Now 84, the women's rights crusader is introduced in the midst of her famous workout routine. This petite, unassuming grandmother, or bubbe, has become a pop culture phenomenon, joining SNL's Kate McKinnon's collection of characters, while her dissenting voice on Court decisions is eagerly anticipated by lawyers and lay people alike.
Meticulously building her history through her groundbreaking arguments before the Supreme Court as well as her life within it, Cohen and West give us a portrait of a smart young woman blessed with the perfect mate, Marty, a loving and funny man whose support was integral to her career. Ginsberg may be serious-minded, but her appreciation of humor is made obvious here, notably as the foundation of her friendship with late Justice Anthony Scalia(!) She embraces her rapper nickname of the Notorious RBG even as she dons crocheted gloves. It is alarming to learn that Justice Ginsberg is a two time cancer survivor, but the woman's work ethic would put many half her age to shame. With its infectious soundtrack, "RBG" is a joyous embrace of a life well lived that leaves us hoping for many more chapters. Grade:
Robin's Review: B+
Justice Ginsberg has been a personal idol of mine for the many years since her nomination and confirmation as Associate Justice by President Bill Clinton in 1993. Therefore, I was as pleased as Punch when invited to attend a screening about the great woman.
Cohen and West follow conventional documentary lines (nothing wrong with that) to tell RBG’s life story and how she fought against all discrimination, regardless of gender, throughout her long, illustrious career. They combine ample personal info about her lifelong love for husband, Martin Ginsberg, her family and the expanse of her judicial career to tell the diminutive justice’s amazing story.
If you want to know about the life and career of “Notorious RBG” (her grandkids call her Bubbe), this documentary, just by dint of the length of Ginsberg’s illustrious career, is full of her contributions to American history on several fronts, especially women’s rights. It also has appeal on a broader scale if you want to see the story of a true fighter for justice. (Gloria Steinem calls her a genuine superhero and I do not disagree one bit.)