Poignant and timely ‘The Trial of the Chicago 7’ captivates

Aaron Sorkin's courtroom drama portrayed the gamut of activists protesting the Vietnam War.
Aaron Sorkin’s new star-studded Netflix courtroom drama, “The Trial of the Chicago 7,” is the cinematic retelling of the real-life trial of seven anti-Vietnam War activists indicted by the Nixon administration. The derogatory actions of one administration seem eerily relevant to the present. 

The film not only shows the violence of the Chicago riots outside the 1968 Democratic National Convention, but the injustice of the justice system. This dialogue-driven film is fast-paced and always moving forward.

Several familiar faces play the famous anti-war and civil rights activists. Eddie Redmayne plays Tom Hayden, Sacha Baron Cohen plays Abbie Hoffman, and recent Emmy-winner Jeremy Strong plays Jerry Rubin. 

Starring as the defendant’s lawyer, William Kunstler, is Academy Award-winner Mark Rylance. The prosecuting lawyer is played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt. The overtly outdated Judge Julius Hoffman is played by Academy Award-nominated Frank Langella.  

Every cast member shines in unique moments where we see who they truly are and what they fight for. Cohen stood out as a wacky and stoned activist.  Despite being quirky, the character fits Cohen’s style and exercises his dramatic acting chops. 

Each of the main men in the trial portrays different types of protesters during that chaotic and divisive time in history. Some are clean-cut, put together, and politics-forward; others include a stereotypical ’60s hippie, a wrongly accused Black Panther Party member, and a Boy Scouts leader raising his son to stand up for what’s right

The conflicting egos and personalities create intriguing relationships, and the chemistry was nothing short of amazing. Nothing made for a more tense moment than two Academy Award-recognized actors in an impassioned battle between lawyer and judge. 

Flashbacks retold the story of what happened the night of the convention and the protest-turned-riot during the lead-up to the strenuous and controversial trial.

The nonlinear style kept the story engaging and left me watching eagerly for what happened next. Sorkin even integrated old footage of the real-life events of the ‘60s. I didn’t know much about the events this film is based on beforehand, and I was truly shocked by some of the reenactments.

This is a film that could easily be popular during award season, especially in a year with so few movie releases due to the pandemic. The poignant film is about a moment in history that in many ways is no different than today. It is definitely one of the best films I have seen this year.

About Author

Jordan Jones was hired as the Culture reporter for the Mesa Legend in January of 2020. She is in her second semester at MCC, and she plans to transfer to ASU and get an Interdisciplinary Studies degree in Film Study and Art History. With her degrees and passion for cinema, Jordan intends to become a film archivist.

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