“Be independent”: RBG film review

Pop culture icon, feminist trailblazer, judiciary rockstar (that’s my personal favorite), whatever you refer Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg as, RBG shows why she deserves any and all celebratory titles, including the Notorious R.B.G., which spurred the justice’s new found celebrity status starting in 2013.  The film’s directors, Betsy West and Julie Cohen, take on the daunting task of bringing Ginsburg’s extraordinary life to the big screen. By incorporating and interweaving different mediums of storytelling, such as old home videos, audio recordings, and interviews, including a face-to-face interview with the justice herself, West and Cohen show how the Brooklyn-born Ginsburg became a member of the highest federal court in the United States. Spoiler, it wasn’t easy.

To delve into the hardships and discrimination Justice Ginsburg experienced would be an impossible task in a single movie review and it would also do RBG a disservice as the film manages to address her experiences in a manner that makes the viewer frustrated and upset, but ultimately leave the theater inspired and informed. As I left the theater, I certainly felt these emotions. Oddly, I also felt concern for the film, specifically, over whether or not it was going to gain the credibility it deserves. While RBG is a film for everyone, there is a clear audience the film is garnered to (I’m looking at you left- leaning millennials), but for those outside the target audience, whose to say that this film is nothing more than a glorified bio page? For anyone thinking that, my response would be: Martin Ginsburg, Justice Ginsburg’s husband.

Odd answer, I know, but the best and most important part of RBG is its focus on Justice Ginsburg’s relationship with her husband of 56 years. Thanks to the internet, I could have learned that Ginsburg was the first female member of the Harvard Law Review or that she is quite the fan of opera, but I would have never known how important and how much gratitude I have for Martin Ginsburg and what he did for his wife, including leading the campaign for her to become a Supreme Court Justice. While watching the film, I felt that RBG didn’t do as much as they could with going deeper into Ginsburg’s personal life, but looking back, every second the film spends on talking about Martin, they are talking about the most personal aspects of Ginsburg as well; they were a team, but he was also her biggest cheerleader.

In a film that is filled with quotable lines to live by, what stuck out for me was Ginsburg talking about the two most important lessons her mother taught her, with one being, “be independent.” As an introvert, it is no surprise that this stuck out for me, especially, since I have always prided myself with my ability to be independent, enjoy my own company, and so on. But that is not the “independence” Ginsburg was taught nor continues to live by.  The independence she follows is one where you’re always able to rely on yourself, but you still put yourself out there in the world and not use your “independence” as a way to talk yourself out of dinner plans (I am very guilty of that one). Lastly, independence does not mean you have to be alone to have it. It is okay to have a “cheerleader,” or several, who see what makes you so amazing as an individual.  So, first movie review is in the bag and I am also assigning my introvert self some homework, which is to reach out to the “cheerleaders” that I have in my life.

Thanks for reading and as always,

Stay tuned!






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