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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

Where Are the Women? Suite Française

WATWsuitefrancaise

A wonderful example of the fact that war is not the exclusive domain of men (as it often seems to be in fiction) and that women have war stories, too.

BASIC REPRESENTATION SCORE: +25

+25
Is there a female protagonist? [why this matters]

FEMALE AGENCY/POWER/AUTHORITY SCORE: +5

+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]

THE MALE GAZE SCORE: 0

[no issues]

GENDER/SEXUALITY SCORE: 0

[no issues]

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)

The setting of the story — a French village in 1940 in which almost all the men have gone off to war and the women have taken up the men’s jobs as well as continuing their own — offers a reminder (one that is uncommented upon but inherent to the plot) of the essential work that women do to keep the world running, work that is often otherwise invisible in pop culture (and in reality).

TOTAL SCORE: +35

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

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

BOTTOM LINE: This is a wonderful example of the fact that war is not the exclusive domain of men (as it often seems to be in fiction) and that women have war stories, too. And also that a story can be about a woman’s romantic and sexual desires without disconnecting those from the larger context of her life and the work she has to do.


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

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

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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