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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

Where Are the Women? The Age of Adaline

Where Are the Women The Age of Adaline

Has so little interesting happened to the female protagonist over the 80 years she has magically remained young that romance is the highlight?

BASIC REPRESENTATION SCORE: +25

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

FEMALE AGENCY/POWER/AUTHORITY SCORE: +2

+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: -10

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

While the female protagonist does not start out with the primary goal of finding a romantic partner for herself [why this is a problem], what drives the conflict of the plot is Adaline’s dithering over her decision to engage romantically with a man or not. This is even more egregious than it might otherwise be given Adaline’s immortality: is this really the most important thing to have happened over the course of her incredible long life? (And if it isn’t, why isn’t her story about that other more important thing?)

TOTAL SCORE: +12

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

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

BOTTOM LINE: Hoorah for a female protagonist. Boo that so little interesting has happened to her over the 80 years she has magically remained young that a couple of romances are the highlights of her life.


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

NOTE: This is not a “review” of The Age of Adaline! 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 Age of Adaline.

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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  • RogerBW

    I can see that she might not have wanted to be a visible public figure, but surely there could have been some personal story to tell. For example, she was brought up in a culture that’s quite different from ours now, and she’ll have had to adapt as acceptable behaviour changed round her; that could have been a fascinating story in itself.

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