Wednesday, October 7, 2020

The Trial of the Chicago 7 Review: A Powerfully Relevant Historical Story

Eddie Redmayne	...	Tom Hayden Alex Sharp	Alex Sharp	...	Rennie Davis Sacha Baron Cohen	Sacha Baron Cohen	...	Abbie Hoffman Jeremy Strong	Jeremy Strong	...	Jerry Rubin John Carroll Lynch	John Carroll Lynch	...	David Dellinger Yahya Abdul-Mateen II	Yahya Abdul-Mateen II	...	Bobby Seale Mark Rylance	Mark Rylance	...	William Kunstler Joseph Gordon-Levitt	Joseph Gordon-Levitt	...	Richard Schultz Ben Shenkman	Ben Shenkman	...	Leonard Weinglass J.C. MacKenzie	J.C. MacKenzie	...	Thomas Foran Frank Langella	Frank Langella	...	Julius Hoffman Noah Robbins	Noah Robbins	...	Lee Weiner Danny Flaherty	Danny Flaherty	...	John Froines John Doman	John Doman	...	John Mitchell Mike Geraghty	Mike Geraghty	...	Det. Sam McGiven

Release date: October 16, 2020
Running time: 129 minutes
Starring: Eddie Redmayne, Alex Sharp, Sacha Baron Cohen

The Trial of the Chicago 7 takes us to the year 1968 where an intended peaceful protest at the Democratic Convention turned into a violent clash with police and the National Guard. This resulted in its organizers, including Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, Tom Hayden, and Bobby Seale being charged with conspiracy to incite a riot.  The movie details the incident and the trial that followed, which was one of the most notorious trials in history.

The story of 7 people on trial stemming from various charges surrounding the uprising at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, Illinois.

With there being many other forms of media including films, television shows, and even podcast that have already detailed this story I was curious as to how this would differ. Would it be a matter of new information or would it tell the story from another vantage point?  The answer here is it doesn't do much new, but it does it very well.  The film has a good command of the facts and retells the tale in a discernable way, while also slightly messing with the timeline.  Also, by adding a little comedic relief that doesn’t take away from the overall tone of the film, the movie makes the story more entertaining while leaving all the important information.  This star-studded cast brought these folks involved in this story to life in a way I haven't seen in any other adaptation.  Frank Langella who plays Judge Hoffman continues to showcase why he is an elite actor and was easily my standout with his performance that will certainly spark emotions from viewers.  And while this entire cast brings their A-game, what’s important is how everyone truly gets a chance to shine.

And some of the events that occurred during the trial are almost unspeakable acts, and this film does an amazing job of adding to the social commentary about this event and our culture in general.  The film absolutely is a slow burn but that slow development is necessary to lay down the facts and set the tone of the severity of theses event. Not to mention this slow development also gives you the opportunity to observe different vantage points including the events inside the courtroom, during the riot, and an interesting take on the retelling of the events.  And on top of that, halfway though the film, everything is taken up a notch including the drama, action, and the performances by all the main characters.

And although this film is a historical retelling, it is relevant to our society today.  With the current political and social climate in America today, this film will trigger emotions that are raw and relevant.  When viewed in the light of today's events, this film could cause viewers to feel strong emotions based on current events.  And thankfully, despite the serious subject matter, the score with its upbeat tempo and the occasional comedic relief in the film keeps it very balanced.

This powerful movie is filled with amazing performances and delivers a final scene that will give you chills, leaving viewers with a very memorable moment and phrase.  The Trial of the Chicago 7 tells a relevant, raw story with amazing performances, strong storytelling, and a balance of serious subject matter with up tempo music and some comedic elements.

Watch it

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The Trial of the Chicago 7 is available to stream on Netflix starting October 16, 2020.

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