Aaron Sorkin’s latest is constantly engaging, quirky, and powerful; a mix that molds neatly to make The Trial of the Chicago 7 suburb. While it certainty feels like an Aaron Sorkin film, it also doesn’t – there is a new edge to his work here. It’s got eccentricity, a sense of humor that at first may feel a little alienating, but as one settles in, it becomes very funny, extremely quickly. Mainly coming from ace-comedy duo Jeremy Strong and Sacha Baron Cohen, who are invitingly strange and idiosyncratic.
It’s an authoritative telling of such a infuriating and likewise intriguing tale. With Sorkin being Sorkin, one can expect a sense of authorial control and he surely delivers. Like always, his writing is razor-sharp and flourished with a signature sensibility to the much-researched dialogue. There’s an impact to his direction, notably in the film’s splicing of the fictionalized-telling of the riots, and the real riots. Under the guidance of Sorkin, editor Alan Baumgarten delivers excellence in cutting, nearly always have some form of impact.
Seven defendants, charged with conspiracy, are trialed by the federal government after the Chicago countercultural, anti-Vietnam protests of 1968. The trial grabbed the immediate attention of the nation and sparked many conversations. This timeliness comes with an intense sense of urgency, relations in the spectator’s mind can be brought back to much of the unjust experienced in America just this year. The government’s control and grasp over who’s right and wrong is explored, it will infuriate and arouse tension within one’s self, that is when Sorkin is operating at his highest. Getting emotional responses through the blunt actions of say, Frank Langella’s stern judge or the police brutality seen – The Trial of the Chicago 7 is a visceral experience to say the least.
The cast is brimming with talent, however, it’s Mark Rylance, Jeremy Strong, Eddie Redmayne, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, and Frank Langella who shine brightest. The fact that five names can be said to be the greatest just proves how vastly powerful this ensemble is. Rylance gives a calculated performance as the voice of reason. Strong is as quirky as it gets, one is bound to love this lovable and soulful act. Redmayne is unrecognizable with his remarkable accent and use of diction, he and Sorkin are in perfect harmony. While, Abdul-Mateen II and Langelia have a set of fiery back-and-forths that set the film alight.
The Trial of the Chicago 7 is a supremely impactful film. It finds a pitch-perfect balance between levity, humor, and bluntness. Sorkin has amassed a stellar troupe that manage to perform at their upmost, backing up his own deftly intricate screenwriting and direction with ease.