Julie Cohen and Betsy West’s documentary RBG follows the career of Ruth Bader Ginsburg from her days as one of the only women at Harvard Law School in the late 1950s to becoming only the second female Supreme Court Justice in America’s history in the 1990s. Her most unlikely third act is as a pop-culture icon in the 2010s, aided in no small part by the meme-ability of her Notorious B.I.G.-esque initials. As is the case with so many documentaries about current events, RBG also shows the cultural pendulum swinging toward the worse.
Ginsburg’s tireless crusading for equal rights for women feels more important than ever as toxic masculinity has reasserted itself in the highest levels of government — yet her speaking the truth about Donald Trump that year is regarded as one of her few public missteps, in spite of the aforementioned fact that she was speaking the truth. But Ginsburg’s unlikely friendship with fellow Justice Antonin Scalia sets a good example for those who have to share oxygen (and DNA) with Trump voters: It’s possible to not only get along with but be good friends with bad people who’ve done bad things. The degree of conciliatory awesomeness the great RBG displays in RBG is one we should all aspire to.
Opens Friday at the Embarcadero Center Cinema, the AMC Dine-In Kabuki, and the Alamo Drafthouse New Mission Theater.