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  • Writer's pictureEllis Barthorpe

The Trial of the Chicago 7 ★★★★

Aaron Sorkin

Starring Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Eddie Redmayne, Sacha Baron Cohen, Jeremy Strong, Mark Rylance, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Frank Langella, Michael Keaton

In 1968, democracy refused to back down. A protest that had been planned to be peaceful and harmless turned violent with an encounter with a whole load of police. The seven organisers of the protest were charged with conspiracy to incite a riot and the events of the film unfold from there.

Aaron Sorkin's incredible screenplay guides several note-perfect performances through the twisting plot of a court drama. With Daniel Pemberton's exhilarating score and an A-list cast of actors ready to go, Sorkin could do no wrong.

I'll start with Sorkin himself. Although his screenplay is applause-worthy in various areas, his direction isn't as creative as one would hope. There was nothing particularly innovative about the way the film was shot, however some snapshots of black and white footage of the riots did remind you of just how real the trial was. The action set pieces were so well produced that they could have been pulled from a war epic, and Pemberton's music compliments every area of the film seamlessly.

These tiny flaws weren't too much of a grievance as his cast were so blindingly distracting. Whether it was Yahya Abdul-Mateen II's brilliantly anxious Bobby Seale, Jeremy Strong's unrecognisably flamboyant Jerry, or Mark Rylance's argumentative and honestly perfect portrayal of William Kunstler, everywhere you looked was glossed with emotional and passionate performances.

I cannot let Sacha Baron Cohen go unspoken though. His comedy timing is excellent as usual but the serious tones that have to be hit are met with anguish and real respect for the source material.

This incredibly relevant picture, The Trial of the Chicago 7 should have been shown on the big screen (as could be said of so many releases currently). It showcases racism and the turmoil that comes with it in a 1960's America so delicately, and at times the actions of certain characters leaves a sickening feeling in your throat. I wonder if Sorkin thought, when writing the screenplay, that the text would have so much cultural relevance in 2020.

So much passion, so much dedication, and so many performances. Bring on awards season...

The Trial of the Chicago 7 available now on Netflix

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