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case up through a series of appeals, arguments, hearings and courtroom battles, all the way to the Supreme Court, which repealed Prop 8 in June 2013.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

Cars 3 Movie Review

Cars 3 Movie Review

It's been six years since the last Cars movie (there were two Planes movies in...

The Beguiled Movie Review

The Beguiled Movie Review

In her inimitable loose style, Sofia Coppola remakes the 1971 Clint Eastwood movie from a...

War for the Planet of the Apes Movie Review

War for the Planet of the Apes Movie Review

The surprisingly thoughtful prequel trilogy comes to a powerful conclusion with this robust, dramatic thriller,...

It Comes At Night Movie Review

It Comes At Night Movie Review

This sharply original horror film not only approaches its premise from an unexpected angle, but...

Okja Movie Review

Okja Movie Review

As Tilda Swinton reteams with her Snowpiercer director, Korea's Bong Joon Ho, it's perhaps unsurprising...

Spider-Man: Homecoming Movie Review

Spider-Man: Homecoming Movie Review

This may be the third reboot of this franchise in 15 years, risking audience exhaustion,...

Despicable Me 3 Movie Review

Despicable Me 3 Movie Review

Actually the fourth film in the series (don't forget the prequel Minions), this animated super-villain...

Advertisement
Baby Driver Movie Review

Baby Driver Movie Review

Wildly energetic and so cool it hurts, this action movie has been put together in...

All Eyez On Me Movie Review

All Eyez On Me Movie Review

There's a clear sense that this Tupac Shakur biopic is hoping to build on the...

Hampstead Movie Review

Hampstead Movie Review

Deliberately appealing to older audiences, this undemanding comedy-drama comes with a hint of social relevance...

The Book of Henry Movie Review

The Book of Henry Movie Review

Apparently, this offbeat script had been making the rounds in Hollywood for some 20 years...

Transformers: The Last Knight Movie Review

Transformers: The Last Knight Movie Review

With this fifth Transformers movie, it seems clear that Michael Bay is still trying to...

Churchill Movie Review

Churchill Movie Review

This drama about the iconic British prime minister tells a darkly personal story set over...

Gifted Movie Review

Gifted Movie Review

This is one of those films that dances right up to the edge of soapy...

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.