Aaron Sorkin directed his first film in 2017 when he made Molly’s Game. The Trial of the Chicago 7 is his 2nd directorial outing, but it may be the most logical project he’s worked on since The West Wing because of its subject matter which is right up his alley.
The Trial of the Chicago 7 depicts the culmination of the events that took place around the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago, Illinois. Several groups went there that fateful day to peacefully demonstrate. What ended up happening was the police endured a riot because Mayor Daly wouldn’t let these groups get near the convention or demonstrate after hours. Chicago had strict curfew laws in effect for that time period after the convention ended. This was a recipe for disaster all the way around.
The cast is too numerous to talk about everybody, but the thing is they all are incredible in their particular roles. Mark Rylance (William Kunstler) plays the lawyer for the defense going head to head with a backwoods stone ages judge Julius Hoffman (Frank Langella). Rylance, an Academy Award Winner for his role in Bridge of Spies has been getting some decent roles since that big win in 2016. He’s so believable as this defense lawyer. He truly believed in the cause of these men on trial.
Sacha Baron Cohen (Abbie Hoffman) and Jeremy Strong (Jerry Rubin) both give stand out performances as two hippy activists. They are completely over their head in this situation. Cohen’s character thinks it’s so comedic that he uses the scenario as fodder in his stand-up routine. The other wants the trial to be done because he just wants to get stoned. They both wanted to listen to rock music and express their free speech. They ended up as scapegoats for the new district attorney and his agenda.
The rest of the cast including John Carroll Lynch, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, and Academy Award Winner Eddie Redmayne are all terrific as well. Sorkin assembled an all-star cast to go with his incredible script. He needed great actors to say all this great dialogue. He is a sure thing for an Oscar nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay come awards season. The dialogue is said so wittingly and biting by so many members of this amazing cast. They wanted to be a part of this important film.
Courtroom dramas are usually some of the best movies going and this one is no different. The cameras were set up to get all of the shots of the various players in this fiasco of a trial. They all had their time to shine. The real shining star is the story, though. This was a story that needed to be told. Netflix is scooping up all these mid-budget films that were otherwise hard to get made. Sorkin went to the right place with this film because this film is a hot button topic even though it takes place in the sixties. The country is going through a similar situation now as it was then. The country is a powder keg waiting to explode.
If there ever was a film set up as an awards contender, it’s this one. And for the right reasons. It’s worthy in so many categories the least of which are Best Supporting Actor, Director, and Adapted Screenplay. Sorkin has a great film on his hands and it could go the distance come awards season. This is the film the country needs to see right now. It’s a very important film on so many levels. I implore everybody to see this film as soon as possible.
Dan Skip Allen
Sean Boelman founder/editor head critic at disappointmentmedia.com