Tue. Jan 18th, 2022

“‘The Trial of the Chicago Seven’ captivates the viewer with immense drama yet falters on pacing and consistent flashbacks.”

Hello again fellow readers to another film review on Cinema Perception. In this review, I will be discussing a DreamWorks film that came out in 2020 on Netflix. The film that I am discussing is “The Trial of the Chicago Seven.” Based on a true story, “The Trial of the Chicago Seven” is a trial case that involves seven individuals and their involvement in the efforts against the Vietnam War around the time of the Democratic Convention. Regarding the names of the seven individuals, they are Tom Hayden, Abbie Hoffman, Rennie Davis, Jerry Rubin, David Dellinger, Lee Weiner and John Friones. Excluded from the list is Bobby Seale, who was a member of the Black Panther Party. 

In watching this film, I noticed that there were several positives. The first positive is that it carried a blend of two genres, drama and comedy. There was one scene in the film where I found myself laughing at Sacha Baron Cohen’s character when he called out in the court to clarify his name, prompting the judge to call for order in the courtroom. Another positive with the film is its special effects. At the very beginning, the film delved into newsreel clips of President Lyndon Baynes Johnson and CBS news anchorman Walter Cronkite, which captivated me and led me to think that this film is trying to aim for historical accuracy. The third positive the film had was its costume design. In addition, the film was on Netflix, which was accessible for anyone who wanted to start and stop a film without any interruptions. The last positive that I noticed in this film was that it had great acting. 

Though the film had several positives, there were potential issues that I noticed. The first issue that I saw was the use of constant dialogue. There were certain moments in the film where I found a particular character talking to some other character, which led the scene to be longer. Due to constant dialogue scenes, the film hit a problem in pacing. which made the runtime to racket up to two hours and ten minutes. Personally, I had no problem in the runtime, but for those that are looking for a shorter film, this film is not the right choice to watch. The other issue I had with the film is the consistent flashbacks. Since it is a court case, it makes sense to have flashbacks to remind the viewers what the case is all about — but in having constant flashbacks, the film loses its sense of focus. The other issue I had is the title. Instead of naming it “The Trial of the Chicago Seven,” it should be known as “The Trial of the Chicago Eight,” since Bobby Seale (played by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) was in the trial until halfway through the film. The last issue I had with the film is the overarching theme. For some viewers, having politically-themed films would be detrimental in discussing the current issues facing the United States. As for others, having politically-themed films is a double-edged sword that undercuts people into believing that their opinion is wrong and that their own is right. Regardless of these issues, I felt that I learned a lot in watching “The Trial of the Chicago Seven.” 

Overall, “The Trial of the Chicago Seven” carries the film with many different elements but also burdens itself in pacing, dialogue and an overarching political theme. With that said, I rate this film a three-point nine out of five stars. As a last reminder, for anyone that is willing to watch a true story-based film, I suggest watching “The Dig,” but for individuals that want a blend of action and drama, I recommend “The King.” ‘Till next issue, this is Nicholas Bartelmo signing off on Cinema Perception. 

Nicholas Bartelmo is a fourth-year History major. . NB790429@wcupa.edu

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