Strange Justice

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  • R
  • 1999
  • 1 hr 35 min
  • 5.7  (182)

Strange Justice is a captivating and powerful film based on the true story of Anita Hill's testimony against U.S. Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas for sexual harassment. The movie was directed by Ernest Dickerson and premiered on Showtime in 1999. The movie follows Anita Hill (Regina Taylor) as she moves from law professor to Virginia to working for Clarence Thomas (Delroy Lindo) at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in Washington D.C. There, Hill becomes Thomas's assistant and quickly discovers he is not the civil rights advocate she thought he was. Thomas repeatedly makes sexually suggestive comments to Hill in the workplace, alarming Hill who believes that this is inappropriate behavior for the head of a department that holds the responsibility to end unfair labor practices.

Hill, after enduring years of Thomas's unwanted propositions, later watches his nomination to the Supreme Court and decides to testify anonymously against him. Later, questioning from the Senate Judiciary Committee reveals her identity, as well as her allegations of sexual harassment.

As Hill testifies at Thomas's confirmation hearing, she recounts the incidents of sexual harassment in explicit detail. Her testimony is met with skepticism and scorn from the all-white, all-male members of the committee, most notably Senator Arlen Specter (Mandy Patinkin), who attacks her credibility, integrity and integrity as a witness, and Thomas who claims he is the victim of a "high-tech lynching".

Despite Hill's powerful testimony, Thomas is confirmed to the Supreme Court. The movie depicts the political turmoil left in the wake of Hill's testimony as well as the push by feminists and social activists to raise awareness of sexual harassment in the workplace.

Overall, Strange Justice is an incredibly compelling and timely film that raises powerful questions about gender and power, and the impact that individual efforts and testimonies can have on systemic institutions. Regina Taylor gives an outstanding performance as Anita Hill, conveying both her inner strength and vulnerability, while Delroy Lindo captures the duplicitous Clarence Thomas with a virtuoso performance. Mandy Patinkin also delivers a notable performance as Senator Specter, revealing the institutional biases of a predominantly male judiciary committee.

The film does not seek to present a 'balanced' view of the conflict between Hill and Thomas, instead opting to focus on Hill's testimony and the larger societal issues that her experience raised. The movie intelligently depicts the sexism and racism that has traditionally plagued the highest levels of US politics and the limited help offered to victims of sexual harassment. Consequently, the film is a must-watch for any student of social justice, gender studies, and American government.

Strange Justice is a rare example of a historical drama that remains both emotionally-engaging and intellectually-challenging. While some of the film's events have been contested by critics, the film remains an important reminder of a key moment in America's political narrative, where power and justice intersected with gender and identity.

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  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 35 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    5.7  (182)