I’m sure you all have heard about how audiences assembled for Avengers: Infinity War. The Marvel superhero movie has broken the record for the biggest opening weekend ever. This weekend, another film, which features the closest thing to a real superhero we have in the US, is opening, and will make a great companion piece, especially if you crave an uplifting ending. RBG, a biographical documentary on Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Ruth Bader Ginsburg, lands in theaters to remind people we should all aspire to be heroes in real life, and champions of truth, justice, and the American way come in all shapes and sizes.
Co-directors Betsy West and Julie Cohen go about showing how and why at age 84, Ginsburg has become such a pop cultural icon. A staunch supporter of women’s rights who helped change laws to promote equality between the sexes, the documentary follows the tenacious octogenarian from her struggles with sexism in college and as a young lawyer, to her current place on a right-leaning Supreme Court. Showing examples of her influence through footage and audio recordings of a few high points of her career, viewers get a strong sense of how she helped create a safer, more welcoming environment for women in the workplace. The filmmakers also chronicle her life with her husband of 56 years, Martin, who supported her choices and celebrated her intelligence in a time when that was a far greater rarity among couples.
West and Cohen offer a view of her personal life and quirks, including Ginsburg showing the collection of collars she wears on the bench, many of which are sent to her by fans and well-wishers from around the country. We see her determination and perseverance firsthand, as we watch her do planks and weights with her trainer, or hear her children talk about her penchant for staying up working through the night, often still getting only a few hours of sleep.
For inspiration, you can’t beat this film, or its subject. It is also very gratifying to see the end credits filled with the names of women, who take the lead in every aspect of the production, from producing, to the score, editing, and cinematography. Not only do the filmmakers highlight one of the most important figures in “herstory”, they embrace the opportunities she has expanded for working women by putting them in all documentary’s positions of power. I challenge you to try getting through RBG without fan-girling.