The story of 7 people on trial stemming from various charges surrounding the uprising at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, Illinois.
Thank you to Netflix for letting me review this early.
We have an opening scene that is an absolute banger, with a head to head battle between Richard Shultz (JGL) and John Mitchell (John Doman).
What follows is this master class of acting inside the courtroom, we are introduced to the seriousness of the case, but yet the subtle undertone of comedic relief lightens the mood. The writing here is impeccable and spot-on way to introduce us to the pertinent individuals of the story.
Our story is timely, in a world of social unrest, and with the political climate we are witnessing daily, this film hits the sweet spot for understanding that we have been broken as a country for a very long time. Sorkin crafts the dialogue in a way that is simplistic, and breaks it down in ways that enhance the movie for the viewer.
Next, we will talk about the incredible acting from Frank Langella, who played Judge Julius Hoffman. Judge Hoffman is not a good guy, but boy did Langella elevate this role to another level. He delivered his dialogue with conviction, power, and this overbearing sense of authority. He demanded your presence in that courtroom, and it was a force to be reckoned with.
Continuing with the acting, Mark Rylance and Eddie Redmayne were the other two MVPs of this movie. There was one sequence between the two that sets them apart from everyone (not named Langella.) Redmayne took a slight edge towards the end of the film, which felt like his ‘Oscar’ moment.
My Trial of the Chicago 7 Acting Rankings:
Besides that, Alan Baumgarten’s editing is one big thing that stands out is the crisp editing, and because we have so many moving pieces, we are hit with so much back and forth that keeps you on edge. Just some of the best work you will see all year.
But the biggest thing here is a further showing that Sorkin does what no other can as he can make a courtroom drama feel like it is larger than life. He did so here with this timely topic that showcases a lot of what is wrong with society still.
A complete sidebar (you get the pun?), So I decided I wanted to give this another go before I decided my star ranking for the film, and I came to a couple of conclusions.
I have updated my acting rankings.
If you look at my thoughts during the first watch, I had said that Redmayne had a slight edge on Rylance and that completely changed after my second watch. I believe the difference for me on the second watch was Rylance was good from go, as Redmayne had a remarkable second and third act.
Although on the surface, Rylance’s character William Kunstler doesn’t seem like he would be that guy, the depth of which we see him go is insane. From the early stages of Kunstler stands for Bobby Seale and tries to help him, he consistently challenges the judge, even to the point of frustration and his witts end, and what we see within Rylance is nothing short of remarkable. As the film progresses, we see Rylance go from a lawyer trying to help his clients to a man trying to rectify the wrongdoings of this case. The one scene in particular that Rylance/Redmayne share towards the end of the film is powerful, raw, vicious, and singlehandedly the best written/acted scene of the year.
In addition to my original thoughts during my second watch, the emotions ran ramped through my core as we could connect the dots from the current state of affairs to the film. Sorkin’s writing is majestic in this way of showing you the cards that were dealt from ALL parties and showing you in an unbiased way that delivers on levels that make you question the big picture.
Mark Rylance gives the best performance of the year as The Trial of the Chicago 7 challenges you to question the big picture.
Jacob is a film critic and co-founder of the Music City Drive-In. He is a member of the Music City Film Critics’ Association and specializes in the awards season. You can find him on Twitter @Tberry57.