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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

Where Are the Women? The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

WATWsecondbestexotic

With lots of female characters living full, rich lives, this movie offers a well-rounded depiction of women as vital, sexual beings into their 70s and 80s.

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

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


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

THE MALE GAZE SCORE: 0

[no issues]

GENDER/SEXUALITY SCORE: -5

-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]

WILDCARD SCORE: +2

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

In a nice reversal of a standard trope, Judi Dench (age 81) is romantically paired with Bill Nighy (age 66), 15 years her junior, and this is not commented upon in any way by the story or its presentation, in either the text or the subtext.

TOTAL SCORE: +11

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

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

BOTTOM LINE: With lots of female characters living full, rich lives, this movie offers a rare well-rounded depiction of women as individuals, not as types or clichés. Even when they (sometimes) engage in the traditional filmic female pursuit of chasing romance, this is almost radical, because they are depicted as vital, sexual, and desirable and desiring even into their 70s and 80s.


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

NOTE: This is not a “review” of The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel! 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 The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.

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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where are the women

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