Monday, February 2, 2009


A Revealer post linking to a review of Prayers for Bobby draws a parallel between that film's portrayal of homosexuality and Revolutionary Road's portrayal of women (spoilers alert):
In the film, women are...conniving but not too bright, sex for them is a form of vengeance or control, and they often talk too much. Star Kate Winslet does have sex -- once to control Leonardo DiCaprio, once to take vengeance on him, and then never again. And, of course, she dies tragically, the wages of sin -- the result of aborting a baby Leo wanted.
Everyone is entitled to their own interpretation of course, but this one strikes me as fairly eccentric. Both main characters in Revolutionary Road are extremely flawed, and neither can be held free from blame for the events in the narrative, but the most obvious reading places the moral responsibility for April Wheeler's death squarely on Frank's shoulders: it is his haranguing and emotional manipulation—indeed, his "talk[ing] too much"—that pressures April into delaying the abortion until after it would have been (relatively) safe. If anything, Frank's culpability is so clear-cut that the story threatens to deny April's agency in her own demise, but to gloss this as April's earning "the wages of sin" seems badly wrong to me.

Also not sure about the implied slight to Underworld: Rise of the Lycans. I mean, it is plainly the case that Lycans is no "feminist parable," and it doesn't come close to satisfying the Bechdel test (there is barely more than one speaking female role), but it's hardly a notably egregious offender along those lines, and the antagonist's autocratic enforcement of patriarchy is portrayed as nearly as serious a flaw as his devotion to racial purity (which is saying quite a lot for a film that is a slavery parable).

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