The Trial of the Chicago 7 is truly one of the best films to come out this year. This film is perfectly written, but words fade. Why? It all comes down to the masterclass screenwriting from Aaron Sorkin.
There is an urgency in this scrip. The dialogue was short, fast, and to the point (typical Sorkin). Everything was explained thoroughly and rather quickly, which kept you glued to the screen. Again, another Aaron Sorkin staple.
And all to learn one of the most untold protests in U.S. history about The Chicago 7.
The History of the Chicago 7
The film captured everything accurately – the political climate, the anti-war rhetoric, and the heinous crime in the late ’60s. The assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy. And the Vietnam War was at its worst.
Then the famous protests, which changed history forever. People everywhere chanted to the American police force, “The whole world is watching.” (And, they still are.)
History has a way of repeating itself. The more I see archival footage, used in films or documentaries, the more painful everything is to see in the current climate. That could be no more relevant that watching The Trial of the Chicago 7 on Netflix.
The Oscar-Worthy Performances
There are so many incredible moments in The Trial of the Chicago 7. And despite everyone’s amazing effort, there are three standouts from the entire ensemble, that left me in awe of their performances.
Within the first five minutes of seeing Yahya Abdul Mateen‘s portrayal of Bobby Seale, who was the co-founder of the Black Panther Party along with Huey P. Newton. I can confidently tell you Yahya should — and will — get an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor.
Sacha Baron Cohen‘s portrayal of Abbie Hoffman was fantastic. You can tell he really wanted to tell Hoffman’s story. Incidentally, Cohen studied the Civil Rights movement in University and for his undergraduate thesis where he wrote about radical Jews in the movement. He found Hoffman this way (provided by Netflix in exclusive production notes).
Mark Rylance also gave a very moving performance, as radical defense attorney William Kunstler. It is probably my favourite performance of his. It was a subtle performance, until Kunstler snapped in the courtroom. Rylance shined in those moments.
To round out this powerhouse ensemble, we have Joseph Gordon Levitt, Eddie Redmayne, Kelvin Harrison Jr., Michael Keaton, Jeremy Strong and the legendary Frank Langella. They all worked so well together to bring one of the biggest trials in American history to the screen.
What I loved the most about The Trial of the Chicago 7 was that I could have watched it for another two hours and not get tired of it. I was actually disappointed when it ended because I wanted to see more of this fantastic ensemble of actors show up for Sorkin.
You must know, an Aaron Sorkin script is never easy to get through. Many actors have said that it is harder than it seems.
The Beauty Found in the Little Things
It is fast-paced and the soundtrack also brought everything together. It wasn’t overused and it came in at the right moments. The Trail of the Chicago 7 is possibly Sorkin’s best directorial effort. His writing continuously leaves me stunned, and if you watch this, you’ll have that same feeling. The courtroom scenes pack a punch because of the crisp and precise editing. It would show the days leading up to the riots, while discussing the events in the courtroom. That definitely made an impact.
Most people have said this film is coming out at the right time. Yet, it’s almost seeing back in time all the way to the present.
The Trial of the Chicago 7 is not a representation of the current era we are living in. Instead, it represents the long fight against systemic racism and how this level of injustice has not been handled properly since the time that brought us this current era.
We see incredible performances from its ensemble, a wicked score by Daniel Pemberton (Steve Jobs, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., The Counselor), and highly emotional courtroom scenes that should be played in an Oscar reel next year.
It is truly one of the best Netflix Original Films I have seen and it deserves every ounce of praise that it is getting.