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film review

Ruth Bader Ginsburg in RBG.

  • RBG
  • Written and directed by Julie Cohen and Betsy West
  • Classification PG
  • 98 minutes

Rating:

3 out of 4 stars

While Ruth Bader Ginsburg was acing Harvard Law School, she was also helping her husband study as he underwent radiation treatment, and looking after the couple’s baby daughter. In RBG, a lionizing biography of the U.S. Supreme Court judge, Ginsburg emerges as a woman of remarkable intelligence and fortitude – who can get by on very little sleep.

Ginsburg made her reputation arguing the trail-blazing women’s-rights cases of the 1970s, a cause she joined in part because she couldn’t find work in the Wall Street firms that welcomed her male classmates. She was appointed to the federal bench in 1980 and ultimately to President Bill Clinton’s Supreme Court: Filmmakers Julie Cohen and Betsy West explain how, as the court has moved right, Ginsburg the great consensus-builder has been forced to become the lone liberal dissenter.

They don’t, however, criticize the late-life social-media fame this has brought her, although the impact of her celebrity is sometimes questionable: During the 2016 election, she departed so far from judicial tact as to criticize Donald Trump, a statement for which she was later forced to apologize. They include a clip where an interviewer asks the really tough question: Should the 85-year-old justice have resigned during the Barack Obama years to allow the appointment of another liberal? Ginsburg makes it clear she isn't leaving any time soon.