The exceptional life and career of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who has developed a breathtaking legal legacy while becoming an unexpected pop culture icon, is examined with interviews from the likes of former US President Bill Clinton, her children and Justice Ginsburg herself.
When it comes to documentaries about momentous legal decisions, the impact of that decision often becomes the cornerstone of the entire documentary. If this decision passes, this will happen. If it doesn't, then this will occur. It's a calculated way of showing the audience not only the weight of the law, but how it's adminstered. With 'RBG', it's less about the law and more about those charged with keeping it in an increasingly lawless time in America.
It's on that topic that 'RBG' opens, with conservative talk radio pundits describing her as "a zombie", "liberal loony", and countless other pejoratives before it smash-cuts to Justice Ginsburg literally pushing weights over her head, doing TRX jumps and working out in the gym like she's getting ready for a boxing match - all at the age of 84. From there, the documentary charts both her early life as one of the first women admitted to Cornell, the entrenched sexism of the legal trade in the '50s and '60s, to her academic career and, most importantly, her work on ending gender discrimination in the workplace.
It's here that 'RBG' really would have done well to plant itself on, as it's by far the most fascinating part of the documentary. Through cursory interviews and brief synopses, the gender discrimination laws are discussed and Ginsburg's slow, determined dismantling of them is revealed - but before any of it can be examined, it goes into her love of opera and why she's called Notorious RBG and even her 'SNL' counterpart.
While it's true that Justice Ginsburg is a pop culture icon in feminist circles and her work was groundbreaking, 'RBG' paints more of a broad picture of it all than an incisive examination of any of it. Nevertheless, it's an inspiring and entertaining watch.