Brett Kavanaugh’s 2018 confirmation to the Supreme Court was embroiled in controversy as multiple women accused him of sexual assault. One of them, Christine Blasey Ford, testified before Congress about the alleged rape she suffered at his hands in high school. justice is a gruesome and furious investigation into those claims, told largely by Ford’s friends, lawyers and medical experts, and another of Kavanaugh’s alleged victims: Deborah Ramirez, a classmate of his at Yale.
Most damning of all, it contains a never-before-heard audio recording made by one of Kavanaugh’s Yale colleagues – Partnership for Public Service president and CEO Max Stier – that not only confirms Ramirez’s allegations, but suggests that Kavanaugh also violated another unnamed woman. .
A last-minute addition to this year’s Sundance Film Festival, Justice is the first full-length documentary directed by Doug Liman, a director best known for Hollywood hits like Swingers, To go, The Bourne Identity, and Edge of tomorrow. His latest is a far cry from those fictitious mainstream endeavors, bitingly condemning Kavanaugh and the political process that elevated him to the nation’s top judicial bench, and casting a sympathetic look at Ford, Ramirez and their co-accusers.
Liman’s film may not provide many new bombshells, but he and writer/producer Amy Herdy make up for the relative lack of explosive revelations by clearly telling this ugly chapter in recent American history, and by giving a voice to women whose allegations were dispelled. , mocked and ultimately ignored.
The biggest eye opener in Justice comes more than halfway through its compact and efficient 85-minute runtime, when Liman receives a tip that leads him to an anonymous individual who delivers a tape made by Taurus to the FBI shortly after – compelled by Ford’s courageous and heartbreaking testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Justice – briefly reopened the investigation of controversial then-candidate Kavanaugh.
In it, Taurus recounts living in the same Yale dorm as Kavanaugh and ended up in a room one night where he saw a seriously drunk Kavanaugh with his pants down, whereupon a group of rowdy football players forced a drunk freshman to hold Kavanaugh’s penis hold. Taurus says he knows this story “first hand” and that the young woman in question later could not recall the incident nor want to come forward after seeing how badly Ford and Ramirez were treated by the public, the media and government.
Stier goes on to explain that while he didn’t know Ramirez, he had heard from classmates about her separate, eerily similar encounter with Kavanaugh, which she describes in person in Justice. According to Ramirez, an intoxicated Kavanaugh exposed herself in front of her face in college, and that she suppressed memories of certain aspects of this trauma until she was contacted by The New Yorkersby Ronan Farrow.
As Ramirez relates in a trembling tone about to break, she endured this humiliation quietly, convinced it was her fault (because she, too, was under the influence) and humiliated by the laughter of the other men in the room. Her account is convincing in its specificity and moving in its anguish.
Ramirez confesses that some of Farrow’s questions worried her that she still didn’t remember everything about that fateful night, and it’s Taurus’ inclusion that seems to fill a crucial blank. Taurus says he was told that after Kavanaugh stabbed his naked member in Ramirez’s face, he went to the bathroom and was urged to stand up by classmates; Once he succeeded in that task, he returned to harass Ramirez even more.
It’s an extra bit of nastiness in a story drowning in grotesqueness, and Liman lays it all out with the kind of no-nonsense clarity that only heightens one’s shock, disgust, and dismay—emotions that go hand-in-hand with outrage, which has stoked by the countless clips of Kavanaugh refuting these allegations with unconvincing rage and untruths.
By juxtaposing Kavanaugh’s on-the-record statements and various pieces of evidence, Justice exposes the many lies put forward by the judge to both sway public opinion and give Republicans enough reasonable doubt to vote for his confirmation.
Furthermore, in a lengthy piece about text conversations between Kavanaugh’s college friends and Ramirez’s Yale classmate Kerry Berchem, the film convincingly suggests that Kavanaugh and his team knew about Ford’s and Ramirez’s allegations before they went public, and tried to preemptively counter them. to go through alternate narrative seeds with friends and acquaintances.
While Liman relies a little too heavily on graphic text to convey any of this, the idea that Kavanaugh (or those closest to him) conspired to keep his apparent crimes a secret – along with his general reputation as a booze-hungry partisan threat – nevertheless op. through loud and clear.
Surprisingly, even though Ford speaks to Liman just off-camera at the beginning Justice, otherwise she only appears on archive footage. Still, her presence is ubiquitous in the documentary, drawing further anger by noting that the FBI ignored Taurus’ tip, along with the majority of the 4,500 others they received about Kavanaugh. The Bureau instead opted to send all “relevant” reports to the Trump administration’s White House that committed to getting their nominee approved.
The effect is to portray the whole affair as a charade and a rigged game in which accusing women were dishonestly and maliciously put on the defensive and powerful men were allowed to skate past on suspicious evasions and feeble denials.
justice is more of a tantalizing, straightforward summary than a formally bold work of non-fiction, but its direct approach allows the speakers to make their case with precision and passion. Of that group, Ramirez proves the memorable highlight, her commentary as thorough and consistent as it is sad.
In her remarks on Kavanaugh’s laughter as he committed his misconduct—with a chuckle that Ford also mentions to Congress—she provides an unforgettable detail that encapsulates her abuser’s arrogant, justified brutality, as well as the unjust system it took to put him on the map. set. the highest legal pedestal in the country.