The film that would win the Oscar any other year

While Aaron Sorkin’s script soars and Sacha Baron Cohen gives the performance of an era, the retelling of the infamous 1969 trial lacks substance.

Jacob ‘Coby’Aloi, A&E Reporter

When entering into the world of “The Trial of the Chicago 7,” audiences are quickly met by snappy dialogue, Shakespearean-like performances and a true story from American history that seems more timely than ever. However, what seems like a slow burn film with loads of potential, ends up feeling like an extended episode of “American Crime Story.” Though brilliant, and with a stellar team full of Oscar, Tony and Emmy winners, “The Trial of the Chicago 7” misses out on an opportunity to truly make a statement.

The film is based on the true story of the trial of seven anti-Vietnam war protestors who were accused of inciting the highly publicized 1968 democratic convention riots. Part courtroom drama, part biopic, part dissection of America at the height of the anti-Vietnam movement in the late 1960s, “The Trial of the Chicago 7” seems to get lost in the kind of story it is trying to tell.  

Despite the wonderful plot and some truly mesmerizing performances Sacha Baron Cohen’s “Abbie Hoffman” is particularly memorable the film loses me and I am sure plenty of other audience members along the way.  The constant premise throughout the piece is to not let the trial be about just the trial, make it about the men who are being sent over to die in a useless war and made to kill innocent people. At times, I honestly forgot this was the major thesis of the piece that the trial is political and about so much more than starting a riot, despite some characters saying it.

While the message was clear at the beginning and at the end, the piece felt a bit hollow in actually delivering on what they wanted to say. That is to say, in any other year “The Trial of the Chicago 7” would have a better shot of winning the best picture award at the Oscars. However, in a year with films like “Judas and the Black Messiah” that hit the nail on the head with the message they are trying to impart to audiences, it feels like the film is a long shot.

“The Trial of the Chicago 7,” while timely and powerful, feels like a solid mid-2000s biopic or even a good late 2010s mini-series, but not exactly top award worthy. That is not to say I did not enjoy it or would not recommend it, in fact, I give it a four out of five star rating. I would however suggest going in knowing that while the film does not always hit the mark, the performances and themes themselves are wholly worth the watch. 

“The Trial of the Chicago 7” is available in select theaters and on the streaming platform Netflix.