The Trial of the Chicago 7: the most impressive aspect of Aaron Sorkin’s account of this courtroom story is that in spite of all poetic freedoms he may have taken, the most egregious episodes are actually true. It is a powerful story well-told; it’s also very topical (but then again, these are problems that rear their ugly heads every few years, if not less). Sorkin resorts less to his usually stumpy, fast-paced dialogue, directing his attention to the storytelling and characters instead. The narrative, in spite of the great number of moving pieces, is of enormous clarity. Helping that is a large cast of recognizable faces giving mostly efficient performances. The two stand-outs are Sacha Baron Cohen, as the flamboyant but smart protestor played with the proper combination of restraint and showboating, and Mark Rylance, as the shrewd defense attorney. Frank Langella and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II are also quite solid in roles that could easily have slipped into caricatures. Eddie Redmayne, however, insists on his mannerist ways, weakening his otherwise OK performance with empty gestures and postures. The film is well made: costume design and production design are efficient, if perhaps too tidy; director of photography Phedon Papamichael’s camera movements are elegant; Alan Baumgarten’s editing smartly reduces some of the most exposition-heavy segments as it intercuts between multiple accounts.
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