Showing posts from June, 2020

Director Celine Sciamma’s mesmerising love story is the ultimate celebration of women artists

Celine Sciamma described her film Portrait of a Lady on Fire as “a manifesto on the female gaze.” Although now a popular buzzword, the expression has never been so powerfully epitomised than in this film. In the 1973 essay Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema , Laura Mulvey coined the term ‘male gaze’ to describe the patriarchal lens through which women in film are presented. Female-centric both in front of and behind the camera, Sciamma’s film is about female artists, by female artists, and celebrates the value of women’s work in a historically patriarchal medium. In 18th century France, young artist Marianne (Noémie Merlant) is commissioned to paint the wedding portrait of a merchant’s daughter, Héloïse (Adèle Haenel). In protest of her arranged marriage, Héloïse refused to pose for a previous painter, so Marianne must initially paint her in secret. After Marianne later comes clean that she was sent to paint Héloïse, the merchant’s daughter finally allows her, and Sciamma subverts

Scenes with Girls: The new London play rejecting heteronormative narratives and expectations

Miriam Battye’s play Scenes with Girls focuses on two women in their twenties, whose conversations revolve around men and sex. However, while the opposite sex dominate the dialogue, the play is a powerful exploration of female friendship, and the rejection of heteronormative expectation. Best friends Tosh and Lou share the goal of rewriting the stereotypical female narrative, by rejecting social expectation of amorous love as the ‘happily ever after’. Lou pursues no strings-attached sexual encounters, whilst Tosh gives up intimacy with the opposite sex altogether. With the rigidness of a society which labels you either a ‘slut’ or ‘frigid’, neither approach is presented as either right or wrong, and the play interrogates the idea of there being a ‘right’ way to be a feminist. The play unconventionally skews the Bechdel test, by focusing on androcentric conversation, while ultimately prioritising platonic female love. The Bechdel test – which demands that a work of fiction feature at l

Judy and Punch severs the patriarchal strings of a troubling seaside tradition

Described in Sight and Sound as “a feminist fairytale”, (which is as much of a description as I need to be sold), Judy and Punch is a powerful allegory for a world in which men have for so long pulled the strings. Director Mirrah Foulkes' translation of puppet show to live action is darkly witty and imaginative, as “Professor Punch” (Herriman) and Judy (Wasikowska) personify their wooden counterparts. The film cleverly appropriates the Punch and Judy show for the screen, right down to the satirically named town of ‘Seaside’, where the story is set (a 17th century village in which no beach balls are present). It is packed with meta elements, as the characters' lives imitate their art. We see the married couple perform their puppet show, before Judy is cruelly flung aside by her husband, in the same manner as her wooden equivalent. The show’s catchphrase "that's the way to do it!" is also darkly repeated by the human Punch, after brutally beating his actual wife. B

Booksmart is a progressive and feminist representation of teen-hood

The day before their high school graduation, studious best friends Amy (Kaitlyn Deever) and Molly (Beanie Feldstein) experience a horrifying revelation. Their party-animal colleagues, deemed certain academic failures, are also heading to top universities. Having sacrificed alcohol for algebra, the girls fear they have missed out on their ‘wild teenage years’, and deciding to compensate for lost time, the pair embark on the adventure of a lifetime. Olivia Wilde’s timely and stylishly directorial debut is a must-see for today’s generation Frequently described as the ‘female Superbad’ , the films’ parallels are indeed clear: teens on the cusp of adulthood, exploring party life. Feldstein’s character also shares the comic mannerisms of her brother, Jonah Hill. However, unlike their male predecessors, the girls’ imperatives are not sexual pursuits, but to break some rules and embrace the excitement of their youth, before leaving for college (Molly mournfully acknowledges: “nobody knows we