At the Movies: On the Basis of Sex and The Upside

On the Basis of Sex stars Felicity Jones as Ruth Bader Ginsberg.

This Friday two vastly different films open for your enjoyment, amusement and enlightenment, one a remarkable exploration of one of America’s most beloved Supreme Court justices and the other an exploration of the relationship between two men – one rich white one and one poor black one.

On the Basis of Sex is a biographical legal drama film based on the life and early cases of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Directed by Mimi Leder and written by Daniel Stiepleman, it stars Felicity Jones as Ginsburg, Armie Hammer, Justin Theroux, Jack Reynor, Cailee Spaeny, Sam Waterston, and Kathy Bates.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a first-year student at Harvard Law School. When her husband Martin, a second-year student, falls ill with cancer, she attends both her classes and his, taking notes and transcribing lectures while caring for Martin and their infant daughter Jane. In spite of graduating at the top of her class, she is unable to find a position with a law firm because none of the firms she applies to wants to hire a woman. She takes a job as a professor at Rutgers Law School, teaching “The Law And Sex Discrimination.”

Ruth finds a case with an opportunity to begin to challenge the many laws enacted over the years that assume that men will work to provide for the family, and women will stay home and take care of the husband and children. She believes that if she can set a precedent ruling that a man was unfairly discriminated against on the basis of sex, that precedent can be cited in cases challenging laws that discriminate against women—and she believes that an appellate court composed entirely of male judges will find it easier to identify with a male appellant. See the movie to see what happens.

On Rotten Tomatoes, On the Basis of Sex holds an approval rating of 74% based on 97 reviews, with a weighted average of 6.6/10. The site’s critical consensus reads, “On the Basis of Sex is nowhere near as groundbreaking as its real-life subject, but her extraordinary life makes a solid case for itself as an inspirational, well-acted biopic.”

Kevin Hart, Bryan Cranston star in The Upside.

The Upside is a 2017 comedy-drama film directed by Neil Burger, written by Jon Hartmere, a remake of the French 2011 film The Intouchables. The film follows a paralyzed billionaire (Bryan Cranston) who strikes up an unlikely friendship with a recently paroled convict (Kevin Hart) who he hires to take care of him. Nicole Kidman, Julianna Margulies and Aja Naomi King also star.

The film premiered at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival. Originally to be distributed by The Weinstein Company in March 2018, the film was shelved and sold off following Harvey Weinstein sexual abuse allegations. It was bought by STX Entertainment and Lantern Entertainment.

On Rotten Tomatoes, The Upside has an approval rating of 55% based on 11 reviews, with an average rating of 6.2/10.