On the Basis of Sex

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On the Basis of Sex
On the Basis of Sex.jpeg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byMimi Leder
Produced byRobert W. Cort
Written byDaniel Stiepleman
Music byMychael Danna
CinematographyMichael Grady
Edited byMichelle Tesoro
Distributed by
  • Focus Features[1]
Release date
  • November 8, 2018 (2018-11-08) (AFI Fest)
  • December 25, 2018 (2018-12-25) (United States)
Running time
120 minutes[2]
CountryUnited States

On the Basis of Sex is a 2018 American biographical legal drama film based on the life of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Directed by Mimi Leder and written by Daniel Stiepleman, it stars Felicity Jones as Ginsburg, with Armie Hammer, Justin Theroux, Jack Reynor, Cailee Spaeny, Sam Waterston and Kathy Bates in supporting roles.

The film had its world premiere at the AFI Fest on November 8, 2018, and is scheduled to be released in the United States on December 25, 2018, by Focus Features.


The film follows the young mother Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who, having struggled against the sexism of her times to become educated at Harvard Law School and enter upon a legal career, teams with her husband, Marty, to argue the (1972) case Moritz v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue[3] pro bono before the U.S. Court of Appeals, setting the stage to overturn over a century of sex discrimination.[4]



On July 18, 2017, Deadline reported that Felicity Jones would play the role of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in the film, which would be directed by Mimi Leder.[5] The film's script, written by Daniel Stiepleman, had made the 2014 blacklist for the best un-produced screenplays of the year.[6] Natalie Portman had previously been linked to the role.[7] On September 7, 2017, Armie Hammer was cast in the film to play Ruth's husband Martin D. Ginsburg;[8][9] Robert W. Cort would be producing the film through Participant Media, while Focus Features would release the film domestically in 2018, with production to start in late 2017 in Montreal.[8] The cast was rounded out by Justin Theroux, Kathy Bates, Sam Waterston, Jack Reynor, Stephen Root and Cailee Spaeny in October as filming commenced.[10] In April 2018, it was announced Ruth Bader Ginsburg would appear in a small role.[11]


The film was scheduled to be released by Focus Features on November 9, 2018.[12] but was pushed back to December 25, 2018.[13] It had its world premiere at AFI Fest on November 8, 2018.[14]


The first trailer for the film debuted on July 16, 2018.[15] The trailer was criticized for a scene in which Ginsburg tells a judge that the word "freedom" does not appear in the Constitution; critics noted that it appears in the First Amendment. Screenwriter Daniel Stiepleman, in response to the criticism, stated that the point of the dialogue was to show that the Constitution, like the country as a whole, was always open to improvement.[16]

On September 21, 2018, American recording artist Kesha released the song "Here Comes the Change" as the first single from the film's soundtrack.[17]


On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 76% based on 17 reviews, with a weighted average of 5.9/10.[18] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 58 out of 100, based on 6 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[19]

See also[edit]

  • RBG (film), a biographical documentary focusing on the larger life and career of Ginsburg, also released in 2018.


  1. ^ a b c d "Film releases". Variety Insight. Archived from the original on September 3, 2018. Retrieved September 3, 2018.
  2. ^ "On the Basis of Sex". AFI Fest. Retrieved October 26, 2018.
  3. ^ "Charles E. Moritz, Petitioner-appellant, v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue, Respondent-appellee, 469 F.2d 466 (10th Cir. 1972)".
  4. ^ Lithwick, Dahlia. "Ruth Bader Ginsburg shows how feminism is done. Again".
  5. ^ Jr, Mike Fleming (July 18, 2017). "Felicity Jones Set As SCOTUS Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg In 'On The Basis Of Sex'". Deadline. Retrieved July 19, 2017.
  6. ^ Yamato, Jen; Bloom, David (December 15, 2014). "'Catherine The Great' Leads The Blacklist 2014: Full List — Update". Deadline. Retrieved October 11, 2018.
  7. ^ "Mimi Leder Confirms She's Directing Natalie Portman in Ruth Bader Ginsburg Biopic". ScreenCrush. Retrieved July 17, 2018.
  8. ^ a b Kit, Borys (September 7, 2017). "Armie Hammer Joins Felicity Jones in Ruth Bader Ginsburg Biopic". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved September 9, 2017.
  9. ^ "Justin Theroux joins Ruth Bader Ginsburg biopic | Pearl & Dean Cinemas". Pearlanddean.com. Retrieved 2018-02-12.
  10. ^ Hipes, Patrick (2 October 2017). "'On The Basis Of Sex': Justin Theroux & Kathy Bates Round Out Cast".
  11. ^ Malkin, Marc (April 17, 2018). "Ruth Bader Ginsburg Films Cameo in Biopic". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved April 20, 2018.
  12. ^ "On the Basis of Sex". BoxOfficeMojo. Retrieved April 20, 2018.
  13. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (July 2, 2018). "Focus Features Changes Dates For 'Boy Erased' & 'On The Basis Of Sex' In The Fall-Holiday Window". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved July 2, 2018.
  14. ^ Hammond, Pete (September 25, 2018). "Ruth Bader Ginsburg Biopic 'On The Basis Of Sex' Set To Open AFI Fest". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved September 25, 2018.
  15. ^ Fretts, Bruce. "'On the Basis of Sex' Trailer: Can Felicity Jones Handle Ruth Bader Ginsburg's Accent?". The New York Times.
  16. ^ Stern, Mark Joseph. "Is There a Glaring Legal Error in the Trailer for the New Ruth Bader Ginsburg Biopic?". Slate.
  17. ^ McNary, Dave (September 19, 2018). "Kesha Releases Song 'Here Comes the Change' for Ruth Bader Ginsburg Movie". Variety. Retrieved November 11, 2018.
  18. ^ "On the Basis of Sex (2018)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved November 18, 2018.
  19. ^ "On the Basis of Sex Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved November 11, 2018.

External links[edit]