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The Trial Of Chicago 7 Movie Review: It Blends Brilliancy With The Bland

Starring Eddie Redmayne, Noah Robbins, Mark Rylance, Alex Sharp, Jeremy Strong and directed by Aaron Sorkin, this one gets a 3.5 stars from us

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The Trial Of Chicago 7 Movie Review: It Blends Brilliancy With The Bland

This  remarkable testimony to the spirit  of  humanism, freedom and democracy, so relevant in this country, comes to us accompanied by so much validation and panegyric- one is wary of expressing reservations on the films’s level of excellence. After all, we are living in times when the voice of dissent is quickly ridiculed, insulted and thwarted, which is hugely ironic, really. 

Considering The Trial Of  The Chicago 7 is all about letting the voice of dissent grow, we don’t have to agree on the precincts of democracy. Likewise, we don’t have to be one on the merits of a film on the precincts of democracy either.

So all right. Let me be the first to say that this is a remarkable film, exceptional in its commitment to recreating the trial of the 7(actually, 8) men who were tried by the American government as anti-national for protesting against the butchering of young American soldiers in Vietnam.

The  moral equations, I thought, are  too prettily laid out in the trial-and-error format. The anti-war protestors are given to swaggering tendencies, inhouse brawls among themselves at their headquarters (ironically named 'The Conspiracy Office’),  while the bad boys from Nixon’s blackened White House remain true to character: forever snarky, sneaky secretive and somewhat slimy. 

Given the brutal moral alignments  of the plot, I found  the pro-Establishment performers far more brilliant in their thankless roles,  especially veteran Frank Langella as the nakedly prejudiced judge at the  trial.

The  seven defendants, joined by a  Black man (Yahya Abdul-Mateen 2, in a role first offered to Will Smith) who is wrongly clubbed (literally) with the rest of the war haters, don’t  even have to make an impression. The inbuilt power, strength and glory of their roles puts the actors on the front foot from the start. This is not to say that they don’t excel beyond their written parts. They do. In fact the main  players, specially Sacha Baron Cohen(who plays a hippie youth leader) and Mark Rylance( as  a defence  lawyer)  give  award-worthy  performances.

The  film is  shot in pronounced  but unostentatious  hues. The  end of the 1960s era emerges  not through  punctuated periodicity but through the mood of  the moment: volatile, aggressive, unforgiving.

Look out for The Trial Of  The  Chicago 7 at the Oscars next year. Many critics have  already labeled  it the year’s best. I wouldn’t go that  far. The  work is definitely outstanding. But quite often it  swings between brilliancy and borderline  blandness. And yes ,where are the female characters ? Probably powdering their noses while the men fight out a future-decisive battle in the courtroom.

 Even in a film that’s all about radical change, some things never change. I go with 3.5 stars. 

Image Source: Instagram/trialofchicago7, IMDb
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