RBG

1 hr. 37 min. | Rated PG | Coarse language.

Starring: Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Jane Ginsburg, James Ginsburg, Bill Clinton, Nina Totenberg

Capitol

Has there ever been a more improbable icon than Ruth Bader Ginsburg? Famously quiet and devoutly serious (her kids actually kept a book in which they recorded each time their mother laughed), the spectacularly bespectacled 85-year-old Supreme Court justice is one of the architects of modern American life. How she achieved this is the subject of the new celebratory documentary RBG by filmmakers Julie Cohen and Betsy West. (The justice seems to be having a movie moment: Later this year, she will be portrayed by Felicity Jones in the biopic On the Basis of Sex.) The daughter of Russian Jewish immigrants, Ginsburg shone at both Harvard and Columbia law schools, yet not a single New York firm would hire her—simply because she was a woman. Luckily, her husband, Martin Ginsburg, himself a top-flight lawyer, defied the era’s sexism by rearranging his career to accommodate hers. A wise call: Ginsburg not only went on to argue Supreme Court cases in which she laid down the legal template for women’s equality, but she also landed on the high court, where she became known for her ideological battles and warm friendship with a fellow opera lover, the late Justice Antonin Scalia. It’s an engrossing, sometimes quite moving story, and in telling it, Cohen and West talk to everyone from Bill Clinton and Gloria Steinem to young women for whom Ginsburg is “the Notorious RBG”—the very model of unwavering, no-nonsense heroism.

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