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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

Where Are the Women? The Water Diviner

Where Are the Women? The Water Diviner

The grief of women isn’t their own: it is a prompt to kick a man into action.

BASIC REPRESENTATION SCORE: 0

[no significant representation of girls/women]

FEMALE AGENCY/POWER/AUTHORITY SCORE: -5

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

THE MALE GAZE SCORE: 0

[no issues]

GENDER/SEXUALITY SCORE: -10

-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]


-5
Is there a female character who is primarily defined by her emotional or biological relationship with a child or children? [why this matters]

WILDCARD SCORE: -3

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

While there isn’t quite a hooker with a heart of gold [why this matters], there is a prostitute character who is present solely so that she can be contrasted with a “decent” woman, as a warning to that decent woman of the fate that awaits her — infamy and disgrace — if she steps out of line.

TOTAL SCORE: -18

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

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

BOTTOM LINE: A grieving mother in denial about her loss. A grieving wife in denial about her loss. But only a man sees clearly enough to do something about it. So of course, this is his story, not theirs. The grief of women isn’t their own: it is a prompt to kick a man into action.


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

NOTE: This is not a “review” of The Water Diviner! 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 Water Diviner.

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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