The Trial Of The Chicago Seven. Review.

This reviewer has always considered Aaron Sorkin’s style an incredibly acquired taste. It has an audience but his incredibly fast-talking thorny and yet incredibly quippy writing style a bit of an indulgence. That is very much true with his second featurette as director. This courtroom drama focusing on the case of seven people tried for causing unrest at the Democratic National Convention of 1968 in Chicago IL. Acquired by Netflix from Paramount thanks to COVID-19 this was one of the first Netflix releases to adopt there standard two-week theatrical window since some cinemas have reopened (and have since closed.) This reviewer was very sceptical going in but as someone who likes to support early releases of streaming content in theatres as well as a=his local independent cinema that’s been under threat of closure twice in the past 10 years this film deserved a chance. Did it deliver what this author has come to expect from Sorkin?
Yes and no. There’s no denying this film is a Sorkin production through and through bearing all his hallmarks. From this reviewers perspective, this was the first time his writing quirks served a purpose beyond indulgence. The screenplay uses typical Sorkin dialogue very smartly to break the tension and prevent proceedings from becoming excessively dry but never losing focus on the central narrative. It is helped along by a massive cost containing some superb performances that voters will be seeing plenty more of during the coming Oscar season. This is especially the case for Sacha Baron Cohen, Mark Rylance Joseph Gordon Levitt and Frank Langella all of whom deliver some career-best work. Having seen Sorkin’s theatrical work from The Social Network onwards this was the first project that this reviewer emotionally connected with. I t’s a terrific, incredibly engrossing watch that unfortunately is just a shade away from the true brilliance that is showcased in individual moments. This is in large part because the film does feel like the theatrical edit of a potentially much longer mini-series It is crying out for some variety of extended cut that gives some of the supporting players the chance to shine. Unlike Antonio Campos, The Devil is All The Time the film does work as a theatrical experience even if an extended cut would truly unlock the films masterpiece potential. The final scene also deserves mention as one of the most powerful moments in recent cinema and essentially an even more effective version of what Spike Lee achieved with the ending of BlackKlansm
This writer has been a little bit cold on Aaron Sorkin’s work in the past. The Trial Of The Chicago Seven possesses the emotional connexion and sense of focus that this reviewer has found lacking in the past. A terrifically engaging courtroom drama with an excellent script, several award-worthy performances and a final scene that’s one of the most powerful in recent memory. It may be a Netflix acquisition rather than an entirely original production but it’s one of the best films they have distributed in 2020. Do not sleep on this one (especially when it starts reappearing as a permanent fixture throughout awards season.
8.5/10

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