Aaron Sorkin’s ‘The Trial of the Chicago 7’ is perfect for those who love Sorkin’s work. If you liked his ‘The West Wing’ on television, or his ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ on Broadway, then I am sure you will be salivating over this movie. It is based on the infamous trials of 1969 wherein a group of young men were charged with starting the riots during the Democratic convention in Chicago. It has all the elements of a great Sorkin piece: all-star cast, zippy dialogues, and his trademark theatrics.
Indeed, I myself was caught up with it. To say that the film isn’t entertaining would be a big lie. The movie moves zippily along, and the acting – all these actors seem to be aiming for something. All the performances are eye-catching, with each character being given their ‘moment,’ spotlight on. I especially liked Frank Langella as Judge Julius Hoffman, who plays an already cartoon character with humanity, resisting the urge to make it more outrageous. I grew hot and cold with Sacha Baron Cohen and Eddie Redmayne, playing Abbie Hoffman and Tom Hayden respectively. I especially thought the latter was a little unconvincing, and I am usually a Redmayne fan.
And just like Sorkin’s ‘A Few Good Men,’ the courtroom scenes are the film’s meat and potatoes, and they are done exactly how you think Sorkin would do it: that is, mesmerizing and over-the-top. I know he probably took a lot of artistic liberties in some of the dialogue, but I also know that a lot of what transpired were probably unbelievable already. The final scene in the courtroom made me tear up, but honestly I felt played after. I looked it up, and it didn’t really happened that way. But I’ll be darned if it wasn’t so effective people will always think it happened that way.