The Trial of the Chicago 7 could not have been released at a more appropriate time. A movie about the system failing its people draws significant parallels today. This retelling of an important historical event reinvigorates the public consciousness’ push for social change. The Trial of the Chicago 7 is an other example of the impact we can have by making our voices heard.
Prolific screenwriter Aaron Sorkin’s follow up to Molly’s Game delights and (intentionally) infuriates. He weaves another engaging tale of struggling through seemingly insurmountable adversity. Sorkin continues to display his exceptional capabilities as a director. The title essentially summarizes the entire plot. It follows the court case of the Chicago Seven, a mostly unrelated group of protest leaders against the Vietnam War on trial for inciting riots. We are presented the reality in which the system failed those who were passionate about the lives of their own people and those who fell victim to a needless invasion.
This film is overflowing with onscreen talent. Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Eddie Redmayne, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Jeremy Strong,Mark Rylance, Michael Keaton, Frank Langella, among many others make up this impressive cast. Each performance is meticulously crafted in bringing these figures to the screen. I can’t attest to their accuracy, though they are equally well-rounded and portrayed earnestly. With so many characters to juggle it’s quite impressive that everyone had their own space to breath and explore these people.
The camera remains predominately static for the majority of the picture. It is immediately apparent that this a “dialogue movie.” Sorkin is renowned for his scripts, and this is another case in support of his legacy. There is so much emphasis on the dialogue that there aren’t any shots that will remain with you. It’s almost as if one is watching a theatre production on the screen. As this project is all his construction and dialogue was the central focus, this was to be expected. The script is so engrossing; married with the performances, it is a definite standout for the film’s of this year.
One thing Sorkin doesn’t get credited enough for is his comedy. Humour is an especially hard element to handle in a court room drama about a significant case in American history, so toeing that line can become very problematic. The jokes don’t overtake the tension and rage that is elevating throughout the trial. Sacha Baron Cohen’s Abbie Hoffman builds on his character with outlandish gestures and comical interjections; which isn’t strictly about levity, it’s well placed nuance. The humour is witty and does consistently land without detracting from the severity or the message.
The Trial of the Chicago 7 is predictable, in the best way possible. A tight-scripted well-crafted period drama with equal elements intrigue and characterization. It’s fully evident that Sorkin took great care in researching these events. We are getting the Cliff Notes of this historic situation, but the film does let you sit with the weight of the situation. Although I don’t think a film is the best method to gain historical facts, this is a good time investment to gain some insight into the past. The Trial of the Chicago 7 is more than just a window into decades prior, it is an engrossing piece of entertainment.