On The Basis Of Sex

500 Days Of Film Reviews On The Basis Of Sex Starring Felicity Jones And Armie Hammer

Struggling attorney and new mother, Ruth Bader Ginsburg (Felicity Jones), faces adversity and numerous obstacles in her fight for equal rights. When Ruth takes on a groundbreaking tax case with her husband, attorney Martin Ginsburg (Armie Hammer), she knows it could change the direction of her career and the way the courts view gender discrimination.

Is It Any Good?

On The Basis Of Sex is inspired by the remarkable and inspirational true story of US Supreme Court Judge, Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Director, Mimi Leder, focuses on Ruth’s experiences early in her career - as she balances her professional aspirations with her life as wife and mother of two young children.


As biopics go, Leder (working from an original screenplay by Daniel Stiepleman) has an embarrassment of riches here. Ruth’s life story is undeniably fascinating. There is just so much to explore.


As a result, On The Basis Of Sex is an enjoyable and powerful film. However, given the extraordinary woman it is depicting, I couldn’t help but feel that Leder’s film is a bit, well, ordinary. I wanted to feel inspired. I wanted to feel moved and, yet, something was missing.



On The Basis Of Sex features good performances from its impressive cast. I really enjoyed Armie Hammer’s charming portrayal of Martin Ginsburg. The scenes between Ruth and Martin emphasise that theirs was a very special marriage. However, while she is undoubtedly a very talented actor, I did not find Felicity Jones convincing as Ruth. 


Perhaps my problem with On The Basis Of Sex is that I love Betsy West and Julie Cohen’s documentary about Ruth Bader Ginsburg. RBG is an inspiring, deeply romantic and incredibly moving film. 


By the end of RBG (which, I confess, I have watched many times) you get a real sense of Ruth Bader Ginsburg - her personal life, her career, her legacy (her exercise regime) and why she is such an inspiration to women and men of all ages around the world. 


If you enjoyed On The Basis Of Sex (and please don’t get me wrong, there is much to enjoy here), I would encourage you to watch RBG. I think it succeeds where On The Basis Of Sex falters in telling this important story about a truly incredible woman.


Random Observations

Have you seen On The Basis Of Sex?


If you have, what did you think of this film? Let me know in the comments section below or via Twitter. You can find me @500DaysOfFilm.

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Jane Douglas-Jones
Jane Douglas-Jones

E: jane@500daysoffilm.com


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