FILM REVIEW | The Trial of the Chicago 7 is a fascinating and gripping courtroom drama says Lewis Pearce

Aaron Sorkin is one of the best screenwriters working today, penning exceptional movies such as Moneyball, The Social Network and most recently Molly’s Game, which also served as his directorial debut. For his second feature-film as writer-director, Sorkin tells the true story of 7 people, all fromvarious protest movements, who face trial stemming from numerous charges surrounding an uprising which took place at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, Illinois. 

This incredible story was made for a talent like Sorkin, and he has produced an excellent film and one of the year’s finest movies. It’s interesting, surprising and often very funny and 2 hours fly by thanks to constantly sharp writing and good pacing. Sorkin originally shot to fame by writing the script for 1992’s Tom Cruise-lead courtroom drama A Few Good Men and creator of popular 90’s TV show The West Wing, and this feels like a genuine return to his roots as a writer. 

The courtroom scenes are superbly realised and a lot of the drama that unfolds I had never seen occur in a court of law before, most of which I can confirm after research reallyhappened. Some moments and characters have been exaggerated or included for entertainment purposes, but the most surprising elements to the film actually took place with this misfit group of individuals and all are brought to life and depth thanks a brilliant and witty script. 

The cast is absolutely stacked here, with everyone bringingtheir A-Game. I’m not usually much of an Eddie Redmayne fan but he was terrific, as was Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as theBlack Panther Party co-founder Bobby Seale. Sacha Baron Cohen has also never been better and he provides much of the film’s comic relief along with Jeremy Strong (hot off his much-deserved Emmy win for Succession) as they play a pair of hippie stoners and political & social activists. The MVP for me goes to Mark Rylance as lawyer William Kunstler, who invests great power and emotion in a powerhouse performance.

The movie looks fantastic, with wonderful directing from Sorkin who has settled into the role behind the camera withquicker ease than I anticipated. The film is wonderfully editedtoo, with all the main characters introduced and established before even the title appears on screen. From there, most of the film takes place inside the courtroom but Sorkin includesplenty of tense flashbacks which explain more about what went down at the Convention.

Although well-intentioned, the ending does feel a little cheesy, especially following what has come before it and I would’ve possibly liked to have seen more from some characters, showing that maybe it would’ve worked even better as a mini-series. Yet in a year that has lacked movies of the highest order, Chicago 7 is easily one of my favourites of 2020 and think it could make some serious noise come awards season. 

Verdict: A game ensemble cast all deliver brilliant performances in this spectacular true story of politics, law and having your voice heard. 

Best Moment: Bobby Seale loses his cool in the courtroom. 

Rating: 8.5/10

The Trial of the Chicago 7 is now available to stream on Netflix.