Is femininity used as a joke (ie, a man crossdressing for humorous intent) in passing? [why this matters]
Is there a female character who is primarily defined by her emotional and/or sexual relationship with a man or men? [why this matters]
Does a man police or attempt to police a woman’s sexual agency? [why this matters]
Is there anything either positive or negative in the film’s representation of women not already accounted for here? (points will vary)
IS THE FILM’S DIRECTOR FEMALE? No (does not impact scoring)
IS THE FILM’S SCREENWRITER FEMALE? No (does not impact scoring)
BOTTOM LINE: Even given how badly movies represent women, this one is appalling. Mostly, women here are slavering sex machines not granted any distinguishing characteristics: the slew of anonymous dolls throwing themselves at one particular passing man is pretty dreadful, and then it’s compounded by a woman who is actually called — as if it’s sexy and hilarious — a “nymphomaniac,” who throws herself at any passing man. Perhaps even worse is Gwyneth Paltrow’s character, who is probably considered by the filmmakers to be of a strongly feminist bent: she’s brilliant, resourceful, and gets most of the work done while the men around her are bungling idiots. But feminism is not about elevating women above men but acknowledging women as people. Women are not people here. At all.
NOTE: This is not a “review” of Mortdecai! It is simply an examination of how well or how poorly it represents women. (A movie that represents women well can still be a terrible film; a movie that represents women poorly can still be a great film.) Read my review of Mortdecai.