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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

Where Are the Women? Nightcrawler

WATWnightcrawler

Rene Russo’s smart, aggressive TV news director is fantastically complex, though she is in several ways entirely at the mercy of the male protagonist.

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: +6

+5
Is there a female character (either a protagonist or a supporting character with significant screen time) in a position of authority (politics, law, medicine, etc.)? [why this matters]


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

THE MALE GAZE SCORE: 0

[no issues]

GENDER/SEXUALITY SCORE: -10

-10
Is there a female character who is sexually manipulated or abused by a male protagonist as a way to advance his story? [why this matters]

WILDCARD SCORE: 0

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

No.

TOTAL SCORE: +6

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

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

BOTTOM LINE: The film would have had a better showing if only the smart, aggressive, and competent TV news director character played by Rene Russo wasn’t in several ways entirely at the mercy of the male protagonist in a way that a male character never would have been.


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

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

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
  • Passerby

    Gonna have to disagree with you there – while the “blackmail for sex” scene is incredibly uncomfortable and demeaning, it’s mean to be. This is a story about about a morally vacuous person who literally uses the people around him without the slightest regard for them as people. I really cannot say the film would have been a better portrayal of that if he’d treated her with dignity or not pursued her sexually.

  • You’re not wrong about any of this. I still give the film positive marks for its representation of women. It could have done even better, though. Why not a female intern, for instance?

  • LaSargenta

    I’ve now seen this very well done movie and while I think that both your review and WATW are on the money, I disagree about the statement “TV news director character … wasn’t in several ways entirely at the mercy of the male protagonist in a way that a male character never would have been.” I think a male character could also be at the mercy of this kind of manipulation if he were homosexual. Depending on the cultural environment of the news station and the character, too, there could have been an additional layer of a threat of being ‘outed’. There is more of this than one would think if they’ve never witnessed it or had friends who’ve dealt with it.

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