A week after New Zealand celebrated 125 years of the suffragette movement, it seems fitting a documentary is released about one of the most influential lawmakers in America, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
RBG, or Notorious RBG, as she's been labelled by millennials who have turned the gender equality lawyer into a meme icon, is an extraordinary woman and a fascinating study for those unaware of her story.
Film-makers Betsy West and Julie Cohen cover Ginsburg's younger years as a Harvard law student and then at Columbia Law School. Graduating first in her class in 1959, Ginsburg learnt law firms weren't in the habit of hiring women but that didn't stop the tenacious lawyer, wife and mother.
In the 1970s Ginsburg became the director of the American Civil Liberties Union Women's Rights Project. She cemented her reputation as a fiercely intelligent and strategic lawyer, fighting six landmark cases on gender equality before the US Supreme Court. In 1980, President Carter appointed Ginsberg to the US Court of Appeals and, in 1993 she was appointed to the Supreme Court by President Clinton.
The legal cases are interesting – they changed the course of law in American- and although there's much talk about how far women's equality has to go, it's inspiring to be reminded how far we've come. What's most fascinating, however, isn't Ginsburg's impressive list of achievements, it's how she went about achieving them.
Ginsburg attributes part of her success to gregarious husband Marty, who wasn't intimidated by her intelligence or her ambition - in the 1950s and early 60s Marty was one of a kind. This is an example of what directors West and Cohen do well – capturing the period so we understand just how many hurdles Ginsburg faced.
This isn't a definitive documentary, rather it's an enlightening and entertaining film taking us behind the scenes of a remarkable woman; it will appeal to audiences who know her as a social media meme, and to long-time supporters.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Gloria Steinem
Betsy West, Julie Cohen
PG (Coarse Language)
Entertaining and enlightening portrayal of a judicial icon.