Brian Tallerico is the Editor of RogerEbert.com, and also covers television, film, Blu-ray, and video games. Clearly, this is a powerhouse cast, and they all relish the opportunity to chew on Sorkin’s timely and provocative language. NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Friday, November 6th. But he can also become fantastically ponderous, bloated with finger-waggingly self-important liberal patriotism. Aaron Sorkin’s The Trial of the Chicago 7 is a historical drama streaming on Netflix. Most heart-sinking is the casting of Joseph Gordon-Levitt in besuited nice-guy mode as junior prosecutor Richard Schultz, who is, inevitably, imagined as the mandatory West Wing-Sorkin liberal establishment figure with real doubts about what he is doing and is, in spirit, almost on the defendants’ side. The Trial of the Chicago 7 is a scarily relevant film that's anchored by Sorkin's nimble script and the strong performances from his dynamic cast. Heartsinking casting ... Joseph Gordon-Levitt in The Trial of the Chicago 7. The weight of the subject matter combined with the intensity of the acting here will be more than enough for some people, and I expect a few awards-giving bodies, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that it all felt a little too refined and manufactured. The writer behind The Social Network and A Few Good Men returns to the directors chair to helm Netflix’s latest stab at award season gold. It’s too polished—there’s no dirt under any fingernails, even Jerry and Abbie’s. Mark Rylance proves again why he’s one of our best—he’s the standout of the ensemble when it comes to making Sorkin’s dialogue sound like it’s actually being thought of just before it’s spoken. Frank Langella perfectly captures how dangerous it can be when incompetent men hold an amount of power that they’re incapable of really comprehending (read into 2020 politics what you will). It is meant to spark conversation about how far we’ve come since the riots of 1968 and subsequent trial in Chicago of the men accused of conspiring to provoke violence in the streets. Yahya Abdul-Mateen II plays Bobby Seale. A movie review by James Berardinelli. The Trial of the Chicago 7 centers on the 1969 trial of the same name. It looks and sounds great, but should it? "The Trial of the Chicago 7" would have already been a must-see film for its captivating ensemble, engaging pacing and rousing story. Sacha Baron Cohen is wittily cast as the anarchist counterculture leader Abbie Hoffman, whose standup comedy routine is occasionally shown as a narrative device; Jeremy Strong is Hoffman’s bearded and laidback comrade Jerry Rubin; Eddie Redmayne is civil rights activist Tom Hayden; John Carroll Lynch is the pacifist David Dellinger; Daniel Flaherty is fellow protester John Froines; Alex Sharp is Rennie Davis and Noah Robbins is Lee Weiner. A Sense of Peace Being Restored: Andrea Riseborough and Zeina Durra on Luxor, Short Films in Focus: If Anything Happens I Love You, A Most Beautiful Thing Honored with New FILA Shoe, December Screening Hosted by Miami Dolphins. But the stakes feel minimized here for that sheen Sorkin does so well, and it doesn't have the emotional impact it should. Strong finds a winning vulnerability in Jerry Rubin; Rylance nails Kunstler’s increasing exasperation at a broken system; Mateen II’s simmering rage at even being dragged through the process is palpable; Redmayne finds the right key for Hayden’s righteous intellectualism; Keaton is perfect in only two scenes. In fact, they were originally the “Chicago Eight”, but charges were finally dismissed against the Black Panther leader Bobby Seale, who was notoriously bound and gagged in the courtroom to keep him silent. The Trial of the Chicago 7 is now streaming on Netflix. One Twitter user wrote that she was speechless and her face was covered in tears after she finished watching the film. It’s a question intended to resonate with the BLM age, but this can only provoke the issue of whether the whole film should not really have been centrally about Seale: the Chicago One. Sorkin has a notable, distinct flavour to his dialogue, a mix of wry, smug humour masking politically charged anger. He is also a writer for Vulture, The Playlist, The New York Times, and Rolling Stone, and the President of the Chicago Film Critics Association. The result is a sharp-witted, taut piece of entertainment, though one suitable only for grown-ups. It deals with the court proceedings in 1969–70 in which organizers of protests at the 1968 Democratic National Convention, held in Chicago, faced charges of conspiracy and crossing state lines with the intent to incite a riot. The problems stem from Sorkin the director, not Sorkin the writer. Strong has a nice moment when someone throws an egg at Rubin from the crowd as he walks into the courtroom and with weirdly unexpected quick reflexes he catches it – and then doesn’t quite know what to do with it. The whole world may be watching, but what are they going to feel when they do? And it is an accomplished ensemble piece, thick with great performances pushing for space in the same frame. The Trial of the Chicago 7 is Sorkin at his most Sorkin-y—both good and bad. Writer-director Sorkin's focus on the trial rather than the bloody riots of 1968, which we don't glimpse until more than 45 minutes into The Trial of the Chicago 7, allows the actors to shine with Sorkin standards like fast-paced intellectual sparring and moving displays of courage and righteousness. The Trial of the Chicago 7 is a timely film, one that reflects the societal struggles of the time, whilst holding up a star spangled mirror of shame to how, despite the 50 year gap, the same arguments are still being had in modern America. Yippies Abbie Hoffman (Sacha Baron Cohen) and Jerry Rubin (Jeremy Strong) have a more chaotic approach to protest, arguing that dismantling the system only happens when it’s disrupted first. Sorkin and Netflix, where the film will premiere on October 16th after a three-week limited theatrical run starting today, understand the timeliness of their project. Hoffman has rather sunk into oblivion in pop culture: not so the Black Panthers, who are not really considered in this discussion. Sorkin has a few zingers here: it’s entertaining when one of the Seven, wondering why he has been prosecuted, concludes drolly that these are the “Academy Awards of protest” and it’s an honour just to be nominated. Sorkin wastes no time throwing viewers into the chaos of 1968, introducing viewers to the key players in what would become known as the trial of the Chicago 7 as they plan their trip to the Windy City to protest the Vietnam War during the Democratic National Convention. But its sincere plea for a more free and fair democracy makes it all the more essential in a pivotal election year for the United States. It’s when one considers the overall picture that things get a little hazy. Mark Rylance plays the main attorney for the seven, William Kunstler, and Frank Langella is phenomenal as Judge Julius Hoffman, a man who teeters on that dangerous edge between incompetent and evil. The Trial of Chicago 7 received positive reviews from the audience. Read Matt Goldberg's The Trial of the Chicago 7 review; Aaron Sorkin's new movie for Netflix stars Eddie Redmayne, Sacha Baron Cohen, and Mark Rylance. “The whole world is watching!” This iconic chant from the protest movement of the ‘60s is featured multiple times in Aaron Sorkin’s “The Trial of the Chicago 7.” The timing of the film's release as laws against protest movements in the United States gain traction and one of the most important elections in the country’s history looms on the horizon is not a coincidence. Sorkin’s The Trial of the Chicago 7 opens with a montage of eight [including Bobby Seale] activists preparing to protest at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago. After a long and earnest news-footage montage setting out the background, we get a long and earnest trial; finally the key arrests themselves are dramatised in flashback. Review - The Trial Of The Chicago 7. What a trial it is. Aaron Sorkin began working on the screenplay in 2007. Still, there’s much to admire in individual beats of “The Trial of the Chicago 7.” I never would've guessed how much I would enjoy a hippie buddy comedy starring Sacha Baron Cohen and Jeremy Strong. The movie mainly follows these seven men as they go through their trial and await sentencing. There’s really not a weak link in terms of performance, and several of them shine in unexpected ways. Tom Hayden (Eddie Redmayne) and Rennie Davis (Alex Sharp) encourage peaceful protests with an emphasis on the young lives being lost in an unjust war. The movie isn’t a cinematic revolution reflective of the change many of its protagonists so deeply desire. 'Trial of the Chicago 7' review: Aaron Sorkin's best work in years. Sadly, that is the tone with this exasperatingly dull, dramatically inert and faintly misjudged re-creation of the “Chicago Seven” trial in the US, which Sorkin has written and directed. The Trial of the Chicago 7 Review When adapting historical events, Aaron Sorkin is known, not for his accuracy but for his distinct style of writing that he uses to mold the world around him. There are several clear dogwhistles to Black Lives Matter, with barely veiled justifications of violence, including an exchange in the opening montage between Black Panther Leader Seale and a woman named Sondra. “The whole world is watching!” This iconic chant from the protest movement of the ‘60s is featured multiple times in Aaron Sorkin’s “The Trial of the Chicago 7.” The timing of the film's release as laws against protest movements in the United States gain traction and one of the most important elections in the country’s history looms on the horizon is not a coincidence. (In fact, the contemporary reports describe the real him as the government’s pitbull whose lips “would twist into a snarl and he would leap toward the lectern denouncing the defendants or their attorneys for some unspeakable new crime.”). Mark Rylance has little to work with in the role of civil rights lawyer William Kunstler but Frank Langella is scene-stealingly grumpy as the reactionary and cantankerous Judge Julius Hoffman. Perhaps because of the importance he places on a script he’s been developing over a decade and has even more weight with the increased protest movement in 2020, Sorkin gets too precious with his characters and dialogue. And when something really important and dramatic happens – namely, the extraordinarily spiteful gagging of Bobby Seale – the padding of all this courtroom waffle and progressive concern muffles the shock. Sorkin starts his film months later, with an angry Attorney General John Mitchell (John Doman) tasking Richard Schultz (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and Thomas Foran (J.C. MacKenzie) with the case of their lives, trying the men he believes were responsible for the unrest. The Trial of the Chicago 7 movie reviews & Metacritic score: What was intended to be a peaceful protest at the 1968 Democratic National Convention turned into a violent clash with police and the National Guard. That Sorkin sense that everyone knows exactly what to say and do in any given situation, even as they express doubt with perfect diction and vocabulary, fits perfectly for a story like the invention of Facebook in “The Social Network” or even the birth of Apple in "Steve Jobs," but the protest movement and the government’s attempt to quell it should be more organic than this film ever even flirts with being. for language throughout, some violence, bloody images and drug use. The power has shifted from LBJ and AG Ramsey Clark (Michael Keaton) to Nixon and Mitchell, and they want to use Hoffman, Hayden, and the rest as examples of what will happen to those who protest the war. Of course, everyone knows what happened in Chicago in 1968—chaos erupted multiple times, leading to riots that caught international attention. Even before Aaron Sorkin imbued the event with his patented wordsmithery, the trial of the Chicago 7 was a moment in American history rife with cinematic potential for the way it so clearly laid out a “David vs. Goliath” systemic inequity at the heart of the U.S. justice system. The Trail of the Chicago 7 tells the story of a group of seven people who are arrested after a protest at the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago. A different director might have allowed the story to breathe outside of the razor-sharp dialogue and might have reined Sorkin in on some of the overwrought theatrics of the final act. His best film work since “The Social Network” overflows with passion, charm and counter-cultural hutzpah. “Can you breathe?” someone asks Seale from the public gallery. David Dellinger (John Carroll Lynch) is a family man who assures his wife and son that nothing dangerous will happen in Chicago, as Bobby Seale (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) promises he too will be in and out without much fanfare. Even a place that self-identifies as the Conspiracy House feels like a perfectly-lit set. The Trial of the Chicago 7 review – timely courtroom drama Aaron Sorkin’s electrifying dramatisation of the trial of a group of 60s radicals illuminates issues that still trouble America There are such wonderful individual moments and beats in “The Trial of the Chicago 7” that just watching it as an acting exercise makes it worthwhile. That remains true for The Trial of The Chicago 7. The Trial Of The Chicago 7 Review Following riots at the 1968 Democratic National Convention, Richard Nixon's Justice Department brings federal charges against leaders of … Another Twitter user praised the writer of the film, Aaron Sorkin, and wrote that he is the most talented writer working in the motion picture industry. Later, the moderate Tom Hayden has a very self-conscious debate with the more radical Hoffman about his irresponsible methods, and says angrily that he’s concerned that when people in future think about protest: “They’re gonna think of you!” Really? In 1968, demonstrators from several anti-Vietnam-War groups — the Students for a … Aaron Sorkin is at his most portentous with this inert film, stuffed with stars, which mislocates the point of the trial it dramatises, Last modified on Mon 12 Oct 2020 19.13 BST. All of these elements and more make “The Trial of the Chicago 7” into an engaging drama, but one that could have been as impactful as that unforgettable chant if it was more willing to embrace imperfection. The events depicted in The Trial of the Chicago 7 occurred in 1968-69. However, the film also shows everything that happened leading up to the protest and the actual march in downtown Chicago. These men were facing actual prison time and they very clearly understood their role in history, protest, and even public opinion of the Vietnam War, all during such a messy and uncertain era. Somehow, this film manages to keep Seale in a peripheral role, concentrating far more on how upset the verbose white liberals are at his treatment. In 1968, the incoming Nixon administration greenlit the punitive prosecution of seven supposed ringleaders of a violent anti-war protest at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago. Rated R And so Day 1 and Day 23 and Day 156 of courtroom drama roll portentously across the screen, with the film congratulating itself for being on the right side of history and repeatedly aiming its shotgun at the fish in the barrel with such verve. • This article was amended on 2 October 2020 to correct Jerry Hayden to Tom Hayden in the penultimate paragraph. The Trial of the Chicago 7 review - totally exasperating court drama 2 / 5 stars 2 out of 5 stars. Now playing in select theaters; available on Netflix on October 16. For better or for worse, The Trial of the Chicago 7 is undeniably an Aaron Sorkin film. “The Trial of the Chicago 7” isn’t a deep-dive into the Chicago 7 drama, nor even particularly deep in its sociopolitical critique. Movie Review: ‘The Trial of the Chicago 7 ... he brings his talents to bear as the writer and director of the fact-based drama “The Trial of the Chicago 7” (Netflix). Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin, creator of TV’s The West Wing and the birth-of-Facebook movie The Social Network, can give you sizzling dialogue and get you almost delirious with excitement about contemporary ideas. The Trial of the Chicago 7 Review The Trial of the Chicago 7 (2020) Film Review, a movie directed by Aaron Sorkin and starring, Eddie Redmayne, Sacha Baron Cohen, Jeremy Strong, Frank Langella, Minor and major figures, played by minor and major stars, show up with their characters’ names grandly flashed up on screen and the drama simply hasn’t earned their presumed aura of glamorous historical importance. But again and again, scenes and lines land with a solemn clunk.