RBG, a sleeper hit about the life and career of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, seems as if it was directed by Ginsburg’s Wikipedia page. It was actually directed by ABC News producer Betsy West and documentarian Julie Cohen, but you could’ve fooled me. The filmmakers establish a consistent pace from the get-go, but West and Cohen also set RBG on autopilot as they lethargically follow a linear timeline through Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s rise to power.
There’s certainly no lack of information when acknowledging and discussing Ginsburg’s accomplishments. Especially how she persevered when faced with sexism early in her career, and later became a symbolic influence for women’s rights and equality. Ginsburg, who is interviewed occasionally in the doc, is also portrayed with a personable warmth; a side of her that is usually shielded from the public. However, West and Cohen don’t necessarily know what to do with this fountain of content other than to ramble off highlights and check them off as they go.
Interviews with family, colleagues, and admirers are appreciated, but I would’ve rather watched an autobiographical account with Ginsberg doing most of the driving and narration; she’s a magnetic presence whenever she’s on screen. Unfortunately, her interesting past is repackaged as a boring and formulaic doc. This film’s poster – a stoic illustration of Ruth Bader Ginsberg – leaves more of an impression than the entirety of this documentary does.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie