The other remarkable element of the trial was Judge Hoffman (no relation to Abbie), who clearly disliked the defendants. His rulings reflected his bias against the defendants. But it’s the nuance that I found fascinating about Langella’s performance. Hoffman was not that he was a typical racist white guy from the 60s. He was utterly incompetent as a judge and how this bias came to a head with his treatment of Bobby Seale.
Let me say that the comparison to political, race relations, and justice of today is not lost on me at all. In fifty years, we’ve seen progress on all fronts, but still not much has changed. What I appreciate about The Trial of the Chicago 7 is Sorkin’s commitment to telling the actual story of these men with only a slight hint of his personal politics. Sure, we can say this is an indictment on Trump, but honestly, it’s not there and would have diminished the work of the “7” if it had been.
“As this film is written and directed by Aaron Sorkin, its real star is the script.”
So back to Sorkin’s brilliance. I absolutely fell in love with the dialogue in this film. First, the character development is top-notch. There are many roles in this story and each one of them is clearly defined, and has distinct and unique personalities. Each one speaks and acts differently from the other, and when you add Sorkin’s dialogue, it goes to master level writing. The dialogue reflects the characters’ personalities, has accents of a backstory, and then serves the overall story with casual exposition buried so deep you don’t realize it is exposition.
Is The Trial of the Chicago 7 Oscar-bait? Absolutely, and deservedly so, and Sacha Baron Cohen is destined for Best Supporting Actor. As much as he deserves one, the role of Abbie Hoffman seems too easy for him, especially when compared to Eddie Redmayne as Tom Hayden or Mark Rylance or Frank Langella, for that matter. This Oscar talk is out of my wheelhouse.
The Trial of the Chicago 7 will stand the test of time and possibly become one of those political films that will help shape one political point of view one way or the other.
The Trial of the Chicago 7 is screening on Netflix.
"…one of those political films that will help shape one political point of view one way or the other."