Our Take: 5/5 Stars
This pushes the story forward in a whirlwind of zingers and pullable quotations that truly immerses the audience into the story. This story was not one of one group, nor did the defendants have one cohesive ideology and personality. The hodge-podge group was incredibly diverse in terms of their personality and their mannerisms, but they were all united by their quest for justice and peace. Sorkin treats them as individuals and as complex human beings. Every little bit of dialogue works to illuminate the person within, and no line is wasted.
Coupling beautifully with the inspired dialogue is an incredibly cast of actors. Led by Sacha Baron Cohen (“Borat”) as Abbie Hoffmann, Jeremy Strong (“The Big Short”) as Jerry Rubin, Yahya Abdul-Marteen II (“Aquaman”) as Bobby Seale, and Eddie Redmayne (“The Theory of Everything”) as Tom Hayden, the defendants each stand out and add bits of likeability and personality to the story.
The other players, like the prosecutor, Richard Schultz, played by Joseph Gordon Levitt (“Inception”), the defense attorney, William Kunstler, portrayed by Mark Rylance (“Dunkirk”), and the judge, Julius Hoffmann, played by Frank Langella (“The Box”) add powerful performances that masterfully crafts the ever shifting tone of the film.
Despite the large and star-studded cast, no role is a small one. The talented cast, coupled with a dialogue masterclass, leave a lasting imprint in each role. Still, the standout performance came from Rylance, who, even in a room filled with the lively and powerful members of the 7, stood out for his deeply intimate and nuanced performance.
For a writer-director that has made his living on dialogue, and particularly constant dialogue, what really stood out was Sorkin’s use of silence. In a film where so much is going on, the quiet moments become even more pronounced, and even more touching. Sorkin masterfully manipulates the mood and the pacing of the film, shifting between witty and comical moments to seriously impactful and personal moments at a lightning pace. The story in itself is an incredibly moving one, and Sorkin’s pacing and not quite linear storyline allow the events to unfold naturally and with as much impact on the audience as possible.
At times, “The Trial of the Chicago 7” may seem too busy, but in reality perfectly mirrors the flurry of action and chaos of the events told in the story. The story is an impactful and powerful portrait of different people coming together for a purpose that is greater than any of them. The film never once feels as though it is out of Sorkin’s control. He knows exactly where the story is headed, and leaves just enough breadcrumbs to ensure that the audience is delightedly enticed and following confidently on their way.
“The Trial of the Chicago 7” is something truly remarkable. The film, like its subject matter, says something more than what happened at the trial. It speaks to larger issues ingrained in our society and serves as a testament.