The Case Against 8

"Extraordinary"

The Case Against 8 Review


This may be a relatively straightforward documentary about a lengthy legal case, but it carries such a powerful emotional kick that it forces the audience to see the bigger picture. For that reason, this is essential viewing: both as an exploration of how the American legal system works and as a personal story of people standing up for compassion and equality.

The ball starts rolling on the day Barack Obama was first elected US President in 2008, the same day California voted in favour of Proposition 8, banning same-sex marriage. Over the next five years, an unlikely legal team came together made up of Ted Olson and David Boies, well-known respectively as the Republican and Democrat who went head-to-head on another extremely high-profile case: the contested Bush v Gore election in 2000. Working with two couples (Kris Perry and Sandy Stier, Paul Katami and Jeffrey Zarrillo) who are willing to stand as claimants, they escalate the case up through a series of appeals, arguments, hearings and courtroom battles, all the way to the Supreme Court, which repealed Prop 8 in June 2013.

Filmmakers Ben Cotner and Ryan White lay the events out chronologically, using interviews with the people involved, plus access to all kinds of media material and backstage drama. But instead of going for a flashy editing style, they let the people tell their own stories, which adds a compelling emotional angle. It's impossible not to see these couples' bravery in the face of outrageous abuse, and there's a terrific sense of momentum as the case moves forward, with moments that are gripping, moving and even thrilling, even though we know where it's heading. Along the way, the film brings out fresh angles on an issue we think we know forward and backward, pointing out why using words like "traditional" to describe marriage is essentially meaningless. As historical scholar Nancy Cott argued in court, "Marriage has never been universally defined as a union of one man and one woman, and ... religion has never had any bearing on the legality of a marriage."

There's also the whole argument that gay marriage will harm society, even though the lawyer stating that point can't explain a single way it might. But it's the people who make this film essential viewing, especially the dynamic duo of Olson and Boies. Olson is an especially fascinating figure, facing backlash from his right-wing colleagues as well as gay-rights groups who don't trust him. But he lucidly argues that same-sex marriage should be a conservative value as it's a personal liberty issue, and that the US Constitution is designed to protect people from mob rule. In other words, the film not only recounts a momentous legal case, but it lays out the core themes in a way that hits us in the gut.



The Case Against 8

Facts and Figures

Genre: Documentaries

Run time: 109 mins

In Theaters: Saturday 18th January 2014

Distributed by: HBO Documentary Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 94%
Fresh: 33 Rotten: 2

IMDB: 7.0 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Ben Cotner, Ryan White

Producer: Ben Cotner, Ryan White

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Wind River Movie Review

Wind River Movie Review

After writing the superb Sicario and Hell or High Water, Taylor Sheridan moves back into...

The Vault Movie Review

The Vault Movie Review

Filmmakers Dan Bush and Conal Byrne attempt a mash-up of a frantic heist movie with...

Goon: Last of the Enforcers Movie Review

Goon: Last of the Enforcers Movie Review

The 2012 Canadian comedy Goon was one of those surprising little films that snuck up...

Detroit Movie Review

Detroit Movie Review

After The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty, Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal reteam to...

Logan Lucky Movie Review

Logan Lucky Movie Review

Good news: Steven Soderbergh's well-publicised retirement from directing only lasted about four years. He's back...

American Made Movie Review

American Made Movie Review

An enjoyably freewheeling tone and Tom Cruise's star wattage combine to make this an entertaining...

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power Movie Review

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power Movie Review

It's been a decade since Al Gore's wake-up-call documentary won the Oscar. And here he...

Advertisement
The Hitman's Bodyguard Movie Review

The Hitman's Bodyguard Movie Review

It really doesn't matter that this movie is utterly ridiculous, because the central pairing of...

Final Portrait Movie Review

Final Portrait Movie Review

A relaxed, amusing true story about noted Swiss painter and sculptor Alberto Giacometti, this sharply...

Tom of Finland Movie Review

Tom of Finland Movie Review

Finnish artist Tuoko Laaksonen used the name "Tom of Finland" as he drew explicit illustrations...

A Ghost Story Movie Review

A Ghost Story Movie Review

Filmmaker David Lowery reunites the stars from his offbeat Western Ain't Them Bodies Saints for...

Atomic Blonde Movie Review

Atomic Blonde Movie Review

From the co-director of John Wick, this similarly styled action romp puts Charlize Theron front...

Girls Trip Movie Review

Girls Trip Movie Review

This movie's premise basically sounds like The Hangover with added black girl power. But it's...

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie Movie Review

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie Movie Review

There's so much manic energy in this animated action comedy that it can't help but...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.