Film Fridays: the Female Experience

This week’s Film Fridays is our boldest yet! These five films examine the female experience, told through the lens of cinema, in particularly unique ways. From gritty coming of age movies to thrillers to dramas, these films examine what it’s like to be a woman in today’s world. PLEASE BEAR IN MIND: most of these movies are not suitable for viewers under 16!!! Most are R rated and deal with triggering issues like sexual assault, mental illness, self harm, and substance abuse. Although these movies are fantastic, please check the ratings before you watch them, viewer discretion is heavily advised, and preferably don’t watch them with your parents.

1. Gone girl

Nick loved a girl I was pretending to be. Cool girl. Men always use that, don’t they?  As their defining compliment. She’s a Cool girl. Cool girl is hot. Cool girl is game. Cool girl is fun. Cool girl never gets angry at her man. 

David Fincher’s Gone Girl, adapted from the novel by Gillian Flynn, is a look into the complexities of marriage and suburban life. Gone Girl the book is more of a thriller, but the film is more of a look into couples and how we portray our characters. From the famous Cool Girl monologue to the shocking ending, Gone Girl will always keep you surprised at what comes next. Amy Dunne, a Harvard graduate housewife, suddenly goes missing one day, leaving her husband, Nick, to pick up the pieces. But the best part about Gone Girl is that it plays on our expectations: the lousy husband, the abusive spouse, the manipulative woman, every stereotype is examined and shown to be a worthless representation of reality. Similarly to Fincher’s other film, Fight Club, Gone Girl examines a myth. In Fight Club, it’s the myth of masculinity, in Gone Girl, it’s the myth of a perfect couple. Both Amy and her husband are the villains in this movie, in their own separate ways, and it’s up to the viewer to decide whose side they’re on… or if there’s a side at all.

2. Room

Jack, the world is so big. It’s so big, you wouldn’t believe it.

Room is a truly heartwrenching story about one woman and her 5 year old son who are being held captive in a tiny room. For Jack, this room is all he’s ever known, and his mother Joy works tirelessly to provide him with everything she can: education, exercise, fun. Brie Larson won Best Actress at the Oscars for her stunning portrayal of a woman who’s lost everything in her life, but somehow manages to go on. This movie deals with content such as sexual abuse, depression and suicide, and it’s a very painful film to watch, so viewer discretion is advised.

Image credit: the Atlantic

3. Promising Young Woman

None of us want to admit when we’ve made ourselves vulnerable, when we made a bad choice. And those choices, those mistakes, can be so damaging, and really regrettable… I mean, what would you have me do? Ruin a young man’s life every time we get an accusation like this?—Dean Walker

Promising Young Woman is all about revenge, but not the type you’d imagine. Cassie is a med school dropout who is obsessed with exacting justice on all the people who were responsible for a traumatic incident that happened to her late best friend, and she has a colorful, vibrant, and cunning way of doing it. Promising Young Woman won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay, highly deserved since you never quite know what’s coming next. Fans of popular sitcoms like Community and New Girl will be unsettled to see their favorite lovable characters in a more sinister role in this movie. Lovable celebrities like Alison Brie and Bo Burnham give us a false sense of security in this movie, a casting choice that will ensure that you’ll never look at Annie from Community the same again. Promising Young Woman celebrates traditional femininity with pastels, cherry red lipstick, and floral dresses, and instead of being conveyed as a crazy psycopathic monster, Cassie is the opposite, exposing us to the deeply entrenched patriarchial mindsets that allow “promising young men” to abuse women and walk free, since their futures are so bright we shouldn’t ruin them with pointless allegations. This movie begs the question: what about those promising young women who lost everything?

Image credit: IMDB

4. Thirteen

Hit me. I’m serious, I can’t feel anything, hit me! Again, do it harder! I can’t feel anything, this is so awesome!

Thirteen is the kind of movie you watch when you’re young that irreparably scars you for life. Tracy, a 13 year old student living in LA, meets Evie, another seventh grader who introduces her to drugs, drinking, and crime. Thirteen follows the rise and fall of Tracy as she manages her difficult home life, her friendship with Evie, and what it’s like to be an impressionable teenage girl. In Film Fridays: Revival, we mention the Virgin Suicides, which also explores female adolescence, in a similarly dark way. Like the Virgin Suicides, Thirteen shows the growing pains and trials of being a young woman in a society that doesn’t really respect you, but Thirteen is more real. Instead of offering a dreamlike portrayal of the Lisbon sisters in their beautiful mysterious glory, Tracy is a complete mess, a terrible person, and a relatively awful daughter. What Thirteen excels at is showing us that it’s not really her fault- she’s a product of her environment and her parents, and in the end, she doesn’t realize the consequences of her actions. Please don’t watch this with your parents.

5. Lady Bird

I want you to be the very best version of yourself that you can be.

Lady Bird, directed by Greta Gerwig, is a coming of age drama about a girl and her mother. Every parent and child can probably see some of themselves reflected in this movie, from the arguments about identity to the painful moments of misunderstanding. Saoirse Ronan plays Lady Bird, or Christine, a highschool student in Sacramento California who dreams of living somewhere cultured and far away from home. Laurie Metcalf plays her mother, a loving woman who doesn’t quite know how to show it, and onscreen these two perfectly evoke the strained relationship between a daughter coming of age and her mother who doesn’t know how to connect with her anymore. Although you can tell that the film was written by an adult who hasn’t been a teenager in a while, Lady Bird poignantly represents the trials of a mother daughter relationship, and the immeasureable love that parents feel for their children.

Image credit: the Atlantic

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