Star Cast: Eddie Redmayne, Sacha Baron Cohen, Jeremy Strong, Alex Sharp, John Carroll Lynch, Yahya Abdul Mateen ll, Mark Rylance, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Frank Langella, and ensemble.
Director: Aaron Sorkin
What’s Good: The time that this film releases. Let’s just assess how much we have progressed, not only physically but ideologically too.
What’s Bad: The pace in the first half, but that doesn’t bother much.
Loo Break: NOT AT ALL, hold it on.
Watch or Not?: Watch it right away. How disturbing is the fact that the film is set in 1968 and the screenplay was written around 2007, but it is still so much relevant? Not just in India but across.
Based on a real-life event, Aaron Sorkin’s The Trial Of The Chicago 7 is about the eight men who were put on trial for being involved in the protest against the Vietnam War at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. The dramatised version shows how the whole system, including the court, was keen on proving these eight men as radical left and name then the riot inciters.
The Trial Of The Chicago 7 Movie Review: Script Analysis
After we are introduced to these varied eight men and what they stand for and what has led to them being in the court, the trial begins. After the first trial, Mark Rylance’s William Kunstler says, “There is no such thing as a political trial”. Aaron Sorkin builds a complete narrative to understand if there is one.
The Trial Of The Chicago 7 is about the men who dared to question the system even when everything was at risk. In the very beginning, Sorkin makes it clear that the government has no mercy for these men, the Attorney General calls them mad kids. It is understood that the men in power are afraid of everything these 8 (who then become seven after one is announced mistrial) stand for.
Sorkin, who is also the writer, is unapologetically sympathetic towards the seven men from the word Go. In the HBO series World On Fire, it was impressively shown what happens away from war. The Trial Of The Chicago 7 is an addition to the same.
While on trial, we get to know what motivated these men. The non-linear screenplay unravels secret after a secret in the best manner. Sorkin cleverly shows you how the system was oppressing people raising voices even in the stark daylight. When Black Panther group creator Bobby Seal played by a fantastic Yayha Abdul Mateen ll, asks for his rights and reveals the secret behind his friend’s death, he is beaten, gagged and tied in the court.
Quick fact: Sorkin shows Bobby been subjected to that punishment for a day. But initially, he was tied down for a few more days.
The screenplay shines when it doesn’t fear to question. Not just the system, but our conscience, if whether the things have changed. The police brutality, people in power misusing it, racism, white men taking their privilege seriously, is still a relevant conversion. Not just in the west, in India too. Protests, oppression of voices, false narratives being fed and a few more darker things are in the headlines as we speak too.
Sorkin in The Trial Of The Chicago 7 knows this. So he writes the dialogues in the most dramatised form. This somewhere pokes us more than a subtle approach would have. For me, this was the filmmaker learning about the happenings and how much mettle they still hold with the audience.
The Trial Of The Chicago 7 Movie Review: Star Performance
Acting performances are the power of this already strong vehicle. A pitch-perfect Eddie Redmayne reflects authority from the very first scene. My favourite has to be Sacha Baron Cohen playing Abbie Hoffman. He has embodied the real-life man to an extent, where even a scene to scene recreated clip looks bang similar to the original. Yayha is a star, and he needs no validation.
Sorkin knows he needs big names to bring in the attention that this controversial subject needs. Joseph Gordon-Levitt happens to be the perfect man to do so. His ‘my heart says it’s wrong, but duty requires me’ act is commendable. Michael Keaton makes a cameo too, and a powerful one. The ensemble manages to recreate this world in the most immaculate way.
The Trial Of The Chicago 7 Movie Review: Direction, Music
A lot depends on the direction in The Trial Of The Chicago 7. Aaron Sorkin has walked a risky path where the film would be straightaway called propaganda. Also the elections approaching support the claim. But he is smart; it manages to make a commentary, while almost remaining in the constraints of the facts. He does fictionalise bits and pieces but never the main points.
He is also smart in terms of keeping his audience hooked and reminding them that it happened for real. For that, he randomly induces actual life footage from the riots that happened back in 1968.
The last few minutes when Eddie starts reading 4500 names fallen in the Vietnam war, is a scene I want to witness on the big screen. Incredible!
His non-linear approach does bother a bit because the speed before the trials begin is also fast-paced. That created a bit of a dent.
The Trial Of The Chicago 7 Movie Review: The Last Word
It’s tough, rebelling against the people in power requires courage. Making a film about it just when the world has come a full circle and witnessing something similar is also a huge step. Watch it to see the sheer relevancy of how history is in turn repeating itself.
Four and a Half Star
The Trial Of The Chicago 7 Trailer
The Trial of the Chicago 7 releases on 16th October, 2020.
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