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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

Where Are the Women? Leviathan

WATWleviathan

While the writing and the plotting may not be clichéd overall, the film’s only significant female character here serves a completely clichéd part in it.

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: +5

+1
Is there a female character with insignificant screen time in a position of authority? [why this matters]


+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: -8

-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]


-3
Is a dead mother mentioned? [why this matters]

WILDCARD SCORE: -10

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

SPOILER

The plot absolutely requires the violent death of the only significant female character… after she has cuckolded her husband in a way that has made her infidelity public knowledge. While there is an aspect of this plot strand that could be construed as a criticism of violent male jealousy, it is still narratively constructed in a way that demands her death, and which punishes her more for her husband’s behavior than him.

TOTAL SCORE: -3

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

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

BOTTOM LINE: It’s only the presence of a few female characters in very small roles that saves this film from a worse score. While the writing and the plotting may not be clichéd overall, the film’s only significant female character here serves a completely clichéd part in it.


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

Click here for the ongoing ranking of 2015’s films for female representation.

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

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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