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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

Where Are the Women? Focus

WATWfocus

Par for the Hollywood course: a woman plays second fiddle to a man… until he decides that he is ready to claim her as his prize.

BASIC REPRESENTATION SCORE: -5

-10
Could the protagonist have been female without significantly impacting the film as a whole? (for a film with a male protagonist) [why this matters]


+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]
-5
Is she the only woman in an otherwise all-male ensemble? [why this matters]

FEMALE AGENCY/POWER/AUTHORITY SCORE: -5

-5
Is there a woman who is kidnapped (either onscreen or off) whose kidnap motivates a male protagonist? [why this matters]

THE MALE GAZE SCORE: -5

-5
Is there a female character with significant screen time who dresses less appropriately for the environment than her male counterparts do? [why this matters]

GENDER/SEXUALITY SCORE: -5

-5
Is a woman paired romantically with a man old enough to be her father? [why this matters]

WILDCARD SCORE: -5

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

After making a big deal out of how playing the manipulative “femme fatale” is not her thing, the supporting female character — the only woman with any speaking lines in the movie — ends up becoming one anyway.

TOTAL SCORE: -25

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

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

BOTTOM LINE: Par for the Hollywood course: a woman plays second fiddle to a man… until he decides that he is ready to claim her as his prize.


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

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

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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  • Hank Graham

    Wait a minute–they made a film where there’s a major female character, a professional associate of the lead, and it still scores -25?

    I was gonna see this despite your review (I love con movies), but I guess I’ll just re-watch “The Brothers Bloom.”

    Thanks for the warning.

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