The Trial of the Chicago 7 (2020)
Based on a true story, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (2020) follows seven young political activists who are accused of conspiracy by the U.S. Government for starting a riot during the 1968 Democratic Convention. Originally slated for a theater release by Paramount Pictures, the film was ultimately purchased and released by Netflix due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Trial of the Chicago 7 marks a revival of writer-director Aaron Sorkin’s courtroom-drama style, and is especially reminiscent of his script for A Few Good Men (1993). Sorkin’s usual quick-witted flair is toned down as to pay respect to the true events and surroundings.
The film speaks to Sorkin's evolving directorial skill, managing multiple complex plotlines and large-scale protest sequences. Editor Alan Baumgarten seamlessly blends archive footage of the 1968 protests into these sequences, providing a sense of authenticity to the narrative world. The realism was underscored by cinematographer Phedon Papamichael’s clear shots and depth provided by a classic aspect ratio. All this was supported by period-accurate, descriptive and fashionable clothing, sets, and props from costume designer Susan Lyall and Production Designer Shane Valentino.
Great performances were led by Sacha Baron Cohen, Eddie Redmayne, Yayha Abdul- Manteen II, Jeremy Strong, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Actors Mark Rylance and Frank Langella brought their collective wealth of experience to the table as defense lawyer and judge, respectively, in the Chicago 7 trial. The entire cast brought a three-dimensional quality to their characters. There is also an unexpected cameo in store for viewers.
The Trial of the Chicago 7 is a relevant film in this day and age. Sorkin presents a period reality that is sadly similar to our modern one, but it’s the cast that manages to elevate this film to a much-watch. Easily one of the best films of 2020, the nomination buzz is already in the air.
Score: 4.5 out of 5