The Trial of the Chicago 7

I do not think I have ever seen a movie that was set over fifty years ago that has more relevance in today’s society than what I just finished watching.

I was utterly amazed at the brilliant film The Trial of the Chicago 7. As I watched the film, I thought to myself how sparkling and intelligent the dialogue and the script was. After finishing it, I discovered that the script was written by Aaron Sorkin (who also directed it). That made a lot of sense to me.

Sorkin, who has written A Few Good Men, The Social Network, Steve Jobs, Moneyball, Molly’s Game, The West Wing, has been known for his amazing dialogue and sharp political verbiage and it is on full display here.

The Trial of the Chicago 7 tells the true story of the trial of seven men who were charged with inciting the riots that occurred during the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago, Illinois. Seven men known as far left activists were placed on trial in 1969 [along with Black Panther leader Bobby Seale (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II)]. The men on trial included Tom Hayden (Eddie Redmayne). the militant Yippies led by Abbie Hoffman (Sacha Baron Cohen) and Jerry Rubin (Jeremey Strong), David Dellinger (John Carroll Lynch), Rennie Davis (Alex Sharp), John Froines (Danny Flaherty), and Lee Weiner (Noah Robbins).

The defendants faced an unfair trial, overseen by Judge Julius Hoffman (Frank Langella), who clearly had his mind made up before the trial began and went out of his way to display his racist, partial ideas from the bench. The prosecution was led by Richard Schultz (Joseph Gordon-Levett), a man who was shown to be fair and honest and who was bothered by the machinations of the court.

The cast here is utterly fire! I haven’t even mentioned Michael Keaton, who made a powerful cameo in the middle of the film that came from out of nowhere. This cast was rocking every moment and each member had their moments. Sacha Baron Cohen was amazing as Abbie Hoffman, bringing a quick witted humor among the devastatingly serious situation. John Carroll Lynch is always great in every role he takes on. Jeremey Strong stole every scene he was in with his portrayal of Jerry Rubin.

I would even go as far as to say that this might be the best performance in the career of Eddie Redmayne, as Tom Hayden. That is saying something considering the fact that Redmayne has won an Oscar.

This was totally entertaining, engaging and, at times, shocking. The scene where Judge Hoffman ordered the marshals at the court to remove Bobby Seale and to “deal with him as he should be dealt with” was jaw-dropping and about as uncomfortable as you can get. The film did not shy away from the clear racism on display and how black people could be dominated by the system.

The pacing is brisk and flowed extremely well. It did not feel like a two + hour film and I was enthralled through the entire run. It moved quickly and never once felt boring. despite it being heavily dialogue driven. It deals with characters and their desires and hopes for the country. It showed these men and people who love their country but who will not sit back and not speak out against the atrocities that the country may be responsible for.

Yet, it does not romanticize these men. They are shown with their own traits and quirks that make them feel real, and not just radical protesters that have revolutionary beliefs.

I thoroughly enjoyed this movie and I believe it may be my favorite film of 2020 so far. It is exceptional.

5 stars

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