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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

Where Are the Women? Begin Again

WATWbeginagain

Busts clichés of the romantic drama and features a strong portrait of a woman artist with a complex inner and outer life.

BASIC REPRESENTATION SCORE: +10

+10
Is there a female character with significant screen time who grows, changes, and/or learns something over the course of the story? (for an ensemble cast, or a film with a male protagonist) [why this matters]

FEMALE AGENCY/POWER/AUTHORITY SCORE: +4

+2
Is there a woman whose role could easily have been played by a man? [why this matters]
+2
More than one? [why this matters]

THE MALE GAZE SCORE: 0

[no issues]

GENDER/SEXUALITY SCORE: -10

-5
Is there a female character who is primarily defined by her emotional and/or sexual relationship with a man or men? [why this matters]


-5
Is there a female character who is primarily defined by her emotional or biological relationship with a child or children? [why this matters]

WILDCARD SCORE: +6

Is there anything either positive or negative in the film’s representation of women not already accounted for here? (points will vary)

+3
The perfect wrapup of the relationship between Keira Knightley’s songwriter and Mark Ruffalo’s music producer is a wonderful slap at clichés of the genre.
+3
Though Hailee Steinfeld’s character is primarily defined by her relationship with her father (Ruffalo), she has a journey of her own that is separate from that relationship… and yet which also culminates in a positive redefining of that relationship.

TOTAL SCORE: +10

IS THE FILM’S DIRECTOR FEMALE? No (does not impact scoring)

IS THE FILM’S SCREENWRITER FEMALE? No (does not impact scoring)

BOTTOM LINE: Busting clichés of the romantic drama and featuring a central female character who turns her personal pain around to make art, this film offers a strong portrait of a woman with a complex inner and outer life. It also sprinkles women into its background characters in positions that would have typically defaulted to men, including as musicians and as music executives.


Click here for the ranking of 2014’s Oscar-nominated films for female representation.

NOTE: This is not a “review” of Begin Again! 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 Begin Again.

See the full rating criteria. (Criteria that do not apply to this film have been deleted in this rating for maximum readability.)


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posted in:
where are the women

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