In 1968, different groups opposed to the Vietnam War met in a big protest in Chicago, where the Democratic National Convention was taking place – an event that announced the candidacy of Hubert H. Humphrey for the presidency. Things got out of control, there was turmoil and someone had to pay for the event. The American government’s decision was to accuse some Protestants of conspiracy in a trial that made history in the country. This historic event is the source for the creation of the movie “The trial of the Chicago 7”, historical drama by renowned screenwriter Aaron Sorkin for Netflix, in his second adventure as a director (his first experience was “Molly’s Game”, in 2017), which has a stellar cast and a powerful plot that goes beyond the walls of the court.

With his skill and experience as a screenwriter, Aaron Sorkin recreates real events that have marked the history of the United States, mixing real records in the fictional narrative. This intention has been clear since the opening of the film when the quick editing explains in a matter of minutes the social instability that led to the famous riot. The narrative is also told between quick timelapse passages and flashbacks, which adds dynamism to the story.

Sorkin has a talent for building dialogues and this has already become his trademark. The films written by him are usually guided, precisely, by the words spoken, with the use of figures of speech such as metaphor and irony. Image and dialogue have the same importance in his screenplays. “The Social Network” (by David Fincher, 2010), for example, no matter how much it is directed by one of the current directors with unquestionable competence and absolute mastery over images, it keeps Sorkinian poetic aura, that none of that would happen with fewer words.

With Daniel Pemberton’s inspired soundtrack in the background, the film features each of the main members of the “Conspiracy Gang” with the same highlight of great events like the Vietnam War itself and the murders of Martin Luther King Jr and Robert Kennedy. The message is clear: the film is indeed about the historical importance of that judgment, but it is especially about the people who promoted it all.

Sorkin moves forward in time and goes straight to the trial, exposing the events that led those eight men – who in the course of the trial would become seven – to court and accused to promote a violent protest.  Tom (Eddie Redmayne) and Rennie Davis (Alex Sharp) are part of Students for a Democratic Society, and their focus on stopping the war and winning elections doesn’t entirely jibe with the anti-authoritarian Yippies, as represented by Abbie Hoffman (Sacha Baron Cohen) and Jerry Rubin (Jeremy Strong), who want a cultural revolution as well as a political one. Their readiness to hurl Molotov cocktails in turn contrasts with David Dellinger’s (John Carroll Lynch) committed pacifism. John Froines (Danny Flaherty) and Lee Weiner (Noah Robbins), play two minor roles. The 8th element of the defendants is Bobby Seale (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), co-founder of the Black Panther Party, whose presence is essential even if less directly than the other participants. Abdul-Mateen II manages to be a worthy representation of the Black Panthers. I highlight the convincing performances of Mark Rylance as William Kunstler, the sensible attorney who defend the group and, especially, Frank Langella as biased  judge Julius Hoffman.

Although the script sometimes is heavy in its construction when typifying some of the characters to create – and even force – moments of redemption or surprise, the production makes each of the names involved count. And that includes Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Attorney Richard Schultz, and especially Michael Keaton as former Attorney General Ramsey Clark.

The fact that the characters pre- riot event are vaguely introduced on the screen (apart from the moments when they are gathered at the trial) as much as it should be, it’s hard to get connected with them and understand better their motivations and historical political importance.

“The Trial of the Chicago 7” has such a current power that it scares – and Sorkin knows it. His script seeks full attention to detail at the trial, which has both racist and dissonant developments within the Constitution itself. The viewers know that the defendants did not cause the riot with the police, and Bobby Seale (co-founder of the Black Panther Party) ) didn’t have any relationship with the seven men, but he was accused by the court as a defendant for almost half of the narrative.

Although it still has the feeling that Aaron Sorkin plays his role as a screenwriter better than as a director, Chicago’s 7 exposes his enhancement, especially directing his cast on the set, for example, we can see his work leading wonderfully Mark Rylance and Joseph Gordon-Levitt as the prosecutors in the case. Despite contrasting breaks in pace, the film works because it takes advantage of the intimidating environment of the court to generate friction and commotion in equal measures. Keeping only in that place and exploring the government’s ills through civilians, the director finds his tone and the representation of pitifully timeless issues.

The film received 5 Golden Globe Awards nominations for “Best Motion Picture – Drama”, “Best Supporting Actor” (Sacha Baron Cohen), “Best Director” and “Best Screenplay” (Aaron Sorkin) and also “Best Original Song” ( Celeste & Daniel Pemberton for “Hear My Voice”).