“The Trial of the Chicago 7” is a straight-to-Netflix docudrama that recounts the events of the protests at the Democratic National Convention in 1968 in Chicago. It is a very metaphorical look at the protests, as the characters too often point out when they are speaking metaphorically, which is very true to the writer’s style.
Aaron Sorkin wrote and directed “The Trial of the Chicago 7,” and since he also wrote my favorite movie “The Social Network” (2010), I had very high expectations for this film.
Unfortunately, I was not as impressed as I hoped to be.
Sorkin’s work has alway been done in this style; mixing reality with fantasy. This is typical for historical fiction docudramas such as this one.
Some of the dialogue comes from the actual court transcripts, with a lot of the script also coming from Sorkin’s mind and imagination. I have always admired this about the genre and Sorkin and find that it adds to the style of the movie.
The story is an interesting one and, in my opinion, deserved to be represented in a radical way. I felt that there was a whole lot left to be done with this script and the movie as a whole, and that there was just something missing from the delivered product.
I expected so much, I think, because of Sorkin’s involvement. That was my bad.
Not to mention the cast is stacked with stars. Eddie Redmayne, Sacha Baron Cohen, Jeremy Strong, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Michael Keaton and Mark Rylance are just a few of the popular names among the cast members. You’d think that this would be a score of a movie.
You’d be wrong.
While the script and the cast are great, the execution of both of these doesn’t really land for me. I think the film’s construction is clumsy and feels too disorganized for something that is this big and important of a topic, especially nowadays.
The events of the trials in 1968 and the world today seem to be plentiful. In “The Trial of the Chicago 7” we see tension between police and the public and rumors of radical protests throughout the city, both of which are popular topics today. These representations of violent conflicts and political stress are relevant and meaningful and I feel that they could have been presented in a more clear and organized way.
Cohen and Strong’s performances particularly stand out in this film. Strong is most known for his role in the HBO series “Succession,” and I think this is the first time I have seen him in anything other than that show. He portrays his character in “The Trial of the Chicago 7” with such style and delivers his lines perfectly. It was a true joy to watch him on my television at home and I can only imagine the effect his performance would have had on the big screen.
Overall, “The Trial of the Chicago 7” is a movie that I don’t see myself ever revisiting. It has great performances and writing, but just didn’t land for me as a whole. If you are looking for some historical drama, this may be the movie for you. Give it a watch on Netflix if you’re looking for some political drama to add to election week.
The views expressed are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of The Torch.