“Chicago’s 7”: Sacha Baron Cohen fencing the word in a stimulating court film


THE STORY: What was supposed to be a peaceful demonstration turned into a violent confrontation with the police. The trial that followed was one of the most striking in history.

“Chicago’s 7”: available on Netflix from October 16.

Review: Daniel Antero

Screenwriter and director Aaron Sorkin wanders in his mind in search of the right word like his characters through the halls of major institutions. These go as fast as they fight off thoughts that arise as arguments of power and games of dialectics.

From “A Matter of Honor” to the oscarized “The Social Network”, through the series “The Men of the President”, one can see the sensitivity of his writing as pretentious, grandiose, precise and piercing. Sorkin is grateful, because he lives on rhetoric and his ability to debit conflicts with excellent diction and vocabulary at a dizzying pace.

“Os 7 de Chicago”, the film that premieres now on Netflix, brings this very distinctive facet, complemented with a civic force and a biting pleasure in confronting the manipulations of governments and courts.

1968 was the year when an anti-war demonstration during the National Democratic Convention in Chicago became chaotic and a violent riot broke out. The Nixon administration, which, however, comes to power, does not want to leave this action unpunished and accuses seven members of the protest of conspiracy and incitement to violence. Whether it is true or not, it matters little. And there are even eight sitting on the dock, as a leader of the Black Panthers is dragged into yet another political maneuver, becoming the target of racist actions in the courtroom.

The film’s argument then spans several sessions of the trial, where the defendants know that it is not justice that awaits them, but a media circus, where they will see the political force taint the judicial system through a dirty FBI conspiracy game and corrupt judge who despises them and finds them guilty at the outset.

Those will have to align themselves and confront their different approaches, without ever forgetting what motivated them initially with a raised fist: the dead soldiers and those about to lose their lives in the Vietnam war.

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Captivatingly structured, “The 7 of Chicago” has a very strong and exciting ensemble of actors that turn the court into a combat arena. Aaron Sorkin’s lines of dialogue are the weapons at hand, and while they are clearly ingenious and structurally disposed, the intelligence and spirit of actors like Mark Rylance, Sacha Baron Cohen, Eddie Redmayne or Frank Langella make them appear incredibly spontaneous and heartfelt.

This talent on the loose allows Sorkin to jump in and out of the courtroom, interspersed with intricate montage and an ever powerful soundtrack by Daniel Pemberton several moments: the demonstrations’ tumult with archival material; backstage meetings between the defendants and their lawyer; the FBI intrusion and the pressure on a powerful key witness (played by an actor we did not disclose); the injustice on the leader of the Black Panthers, literally detained and used to be the face of violence.

With all this, Sorkin raises the tension and the feeling of revolt against this shameful moment of the past, without ever leaving the strength of what united the now accused activists: the word to chance. For at a higher point, one word is enough to define who among the seven will sit on the witness stand and understand how each side of politics forces interpretation on the commentary, debate and protest speeches.

On the eve of US elections, where we see propaganda agendas that envision or silence the truth, Aaron Sorkin’s purpose and the parallelism of “The Chicago 7” with our times is clear and evident.


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