RBG – Review by Cate Marquis

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RBG POSTERThis documentary gives us the low-down on this brilliant but reserved attorney who is having an unlikely turn as a cultural darling. The documentary RBG starts out with clips of Republican or politically-conservative men reviling Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg as if she were the devil incarnate. For these right-leaning white men, she may well be just that, or at least their worst nightmare, a characterization the small but mighty RBG might embrace, or maybe even relish. Continue reading…

The documentary RBG starts out with clips of Republican or politically-conservative men reviling Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg as if she were the devil incarnate. For these right-leaning white men, she may well be just that, or at least their worst nightmare, a characterization the small but mighty RBG might embrace, or maybe even relish.

We are introduced to a host of friends, family and colleagues of RBG, as the documentary gives us inspiring recap of her life of hard work and determination. The documentary also recaps the wide-spread discrimination women faced in the work place, and throughout society, in the 1950s.

As we learn in the documentary, two themes shaped the future justice. One was the classic American immigrant story – her father was from Russia and her mother the daughter of immigrants. The other was her belief from childhood that women were equal to men. The documentary introduces us to a blue-eyed little girl nicknamed Kiki, who often thought the boys’ more-daring games were more fun. Growing up, photos show a surprisingly pretty young woman but Ruth Bader was both smart and independent from the start, something encouraged by her mother.

The intelligent, studious young Ruth Bader, a quiet person who was not given to idle chat, married the outgoing, fun-loving Marty Ginsberg, who supported her ambitions and thought as she did that women could do anything men could do, a radical idea in the 1950s.

Already a married mother of a toddler when she started Harvard Law School, Ruth Bader Ginsberg was one of only nine women at the law school yet made the Harvard Review her second year. This was despite the fact that her husband Marty, also in law school, was stricken with cancer, and she was caring for him and their daughter while doing her law school work and helping with his. Friends say this is when she learned to “burn the candle at both ends,” a high-energy life she has continued to live

The state of women’s rights in the 19050s is illustrated by the fact that when Ruth Bader Ginsberg graduated law school, no law firm would hire her simply because she was female. After becoming a law professor, she started working on women’s discrimination cases. Following the model of another Supreme Court justice, Thurgood Marshall,who set the pace in Civil Rights working with ACLU, Ginsberg broke ground working for the ACLU for women’s rights.

If you did not admire this woman personally before, this film is likely to change after, even if you differ on politics. Besides her legal brilliance, her ability to surmount challenges, personal and professional, is inspiring, as is her remarkable work-ethic, which are enough to win anyone’s admiration.

One thing that is particularly fun in this film is seeing how much the dignified Supreme Court justice, someone consistently described as a quiet person who never engaged in small talk, seems to enjoy her pop culture designation as the Notorious RBG.

Inspiring and entertaining, RBG is a delightful exploration of the dynamic Supreme Court justice known as the Notorious RBG.

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