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Trial of the Chicago 7, The


Stars: Mark Rylance, Eddie Redmayne, Sacha Baron Cohen, Frank Langella, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Alex Sharp, Jeremy Strong, John Carroll Lynch, Michael Keaton, Yahya Abdul-Maten II

Director: Aaron Sorkin

One of the more shameful lowpoints in American judicial history, this depicts, in fairly straightforward manner, the sensational trial of seven of the 'ringleaders' of an anti-Vietnam War demonstration at the time of the Republic election conference of 1968.

It's a protest that, thanks to the number of police employed and their methods, turns to bloody confrontation and violence, as the protesters are assaulted with heavy batons, tear gas and, in some cases, real as well as rubber bullets.

Chief among their leaders are Tom Hayden (Redmayne), who later married Jane Fonda, Abbie Hoffman (Baron Cohen) and Jerry Rubin (Strong), while Rylance plays their defence counsel. It's a heavyweight cast, although not all the performances are on the same level of excellence, and some of the line readings are a bit odd - rushed even, although there's admittedly a lot to get through.

In any event, the film is stolen from them all by veteran Langella, as the eccentric and barely competent judge, determined to convict the defendants come what may. It's a film to shock and appal, as all the defence's weapons are whipped from under them by barely-fair means. Despite the hefty runtime, the film never seems too long.

Available free on Netflix Youtube for one day, until 8am on 21 February, then streaming on Netflix proper

David Quinlan

USA 2020. UK Distributor: Netflix/DreamWorks. Colour by efilm.
129 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 2.

Review date: 20 Feb 2021