Language – English
Director – Aaron Sorkin
Writer – Aaron Sorkin
Cast – Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Sacha Baron Cohen, Daniel Flaherty, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Michael Keaton, Frank Langella, John Carroll Lynch, Eddie Redmayne, Noah Robbins, Mark Rylance, Alex Sharp, and Jeremy Strong.
Genre – Historical | Courtroom drama | Thriller.
Hollywood is one Industry that takes a lot of pride in making films based on its history and key events irrespective of its significance. In spite of taking cinematic liberties most of these films have always made it a point to depict the historical events without ‘much’ bias and showcased the true social and political climate that existed during the era. The new Netflix courtroom drama ‘The Trial of the Chicago 7’ directed and written by Aaron Sorkin is another brilliant addition to this genre of films.
The film talks about the trial of 7 leaders belonging to different parties supporting the Anti-Vietnamese movement who are accused of conspiring to create a riot during a democratic party conference at Chicago in 1968. While it primarily focuses on the trial that spanned over a year in detail, it also sheds light on how biased the system was back in the 60’s and you can only sit back and wonder how pretty much nothing has changed even after 6 decades.
The biggest asset of The Trial of Chicago 7 is its screenplay that doesn’t give out a clear picture of the event that led to the trial until the very last scene. The main event is shown to us in flashbacks during conversations in the court or between characters and this format not only holds one’s intrigue but also double’s the impact when important revelations are made. It’s also appreciable that the film uses its characters to give you an idea of the kind of discrimination and prejudice that existed within the system rather than being too loud and on the face about it.
This is a multi-starrer venture and everyone gets their own share of space and plays significant roles in shaping up the overall narrative. However, it’s Mark Rylance as William Kunstler and Frank Langella as the biased and arrogant judge Julius Hoffman who walks away with much of the brownie points. Eddie Redmayne as Tom Hayden gets some of the strong emotional scenes in the film and he delivers his best.
Overall, the film sucks you into its narrative right from scene 1 and keeps that momentum going right till the very end. This is a serious ‘whistle worthy entertainer’ and you generally don’t relate such adjectives to films belonging to this genre and therein lies the success of this film.
In regards to the film’s timely subject matter in 2020, Aaron Sorkin described the film as being more about modern day than the 1960’s. He explained that, “The script didn’t change to mirror the times. The times changed to mirror the script.”
When Steven Spielberg was attached to direct, he was planning on meeting with Heath Ledger to discuss the role of Tom Hayden. Ledger passed away the day before he was scheduled to meet with Spielberg. Spielberg also wanted Will Smith to play Bobby Seale.
The cast features two Academy Award winners: Eddie Redmayne and Mark Rylance; as well as three Academy Award nominees: Sacha Baron Cohen, Michael Keaton, and Frank Langella. Redmayne and Keaton competed against each other in 2015 for their respective films The Theory of Everything (2014) and Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (2014). Writer/director Aaron Sorkin is also an Academy Award winner.