Following the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Salt Lake Film Review has decided to republish this review from Matt Bullions on May 23rd, 2018. RBG is now available to stream on Hulu.
I live in an area where documentaries don’t make it to the big screen very often. With the announcement of RBG, a documentary following the life of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, public interest was about as strong as you’d think. I was lucky enough to catch an RBG screening the other night. It’s as great as it should be. I walked in already a fan, but there’s a lot covered in this film that I didn’t already know about her.
RBG is a brisk film, running about 90 minutes. It follows Ginsburg’s life, from her undergraduate career at Cornell, to being one of the only women in her class at Harvard, all the way to her present-day “rockstar” status, where a generation of people are drawing inspiration from her that she could have never predicted. Through it all, she’s remained an indefatigable force of nature – a reminder of what can be accomplished when we work hard, and when are absolutely sure of ourselves. And, at 85 years old, she’s showing no signs of slowing down.
Of course, directors Betsy West and Julie Cohen look at their subject with the most loving eyes. This is a valentine to Ginsburg. And of course, those who seek out this film are probably fans of Ginsburg and what she has accomplished. So, it could be argued this whole thing is preaching to the choir, and it might be.
One thing I didn’t expect is how genuinely moving this film is. Ginsburg has faced so much opposition from sexist detractors who have never wanted to give her the time of day. She’s a champion of women’s rights, and people don’t always remember that. Nothing anyone could say or do would ever stop her from making history. Her resilience and strength are truly inspiring, and this film moved me to tears several times. It’s important to note that Ginsburg seems like a genuine human being. Personal interviews, particularly with Ginsburg and her granddaughter, illuminate the unexpected warm side of this trailblazer.
It could be argued that today’s political climate allows for perfect timing for a doc about Ruth Bader Ginsburg, but truly there could never be a wrong time. Considering where we are, not only as a nation but culturally, there has never been a better time for something as stirring as RBG. Like anyone else, Ginsburg has her detractors, but the information covered in this film is fairly indisputable. Her life’s work has been immensely significant for many different groups of people.
Regardless of your opinion of her, she’s in a class of her own. She’s a fascinating, remarkable person. RBG is a passionate, informative, wildly entertaining love letter to a life in public service. It’s a rousing stand-up-and-cheer crowd pleaser best seen in a theater with an enthusiastic crowd. You’ll leave feeling truly inspired.