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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

Where Are the Women? Tomorrowland

Where Are the Women Tomorrowland

An adventurous female coprotagonist and a fascinating little-girl supporting character add up to representation of young women rarely seen in studio films.

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

+2
Is there a woman whose role could easily have been played by a man? [why this matters]
+2
More than one? [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 female coprotagonist is a budding engineer who instinctively “knows how things work”… including motorcycles, computers, and other gear and tech. This isn’t at all unusual in the real world, but we hardly ever see teenaged girls (or adult women, for that matter) display such interest and aptitude onscreen in a way that is meant to be cool and positive, or, indeed, in any way at all.

TOTAL SCORE: +19

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 a smart, competent, adventurous female coprotagonist and a fascinating little-girl supporting character — both roles that could have easily been played by male actors — this movie offers wonderful representation of young women of a type rarely seen in Hollywood films. In a fantastic reversal of the usual tropes, it is the male coprotagonist for whom romantic attachment forms a significant part of his story (and romance figures not at all for the female coprotagonist).


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

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

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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  • LA Julian

    It does have the dead/missing mother problem — apparently she was supposed to have a bigger role but it was left on the cutting floor, according to pre-DVD rumour.

  • Yes, the mom isn’t there, but she isn’t mentioned at all, and her absence is not particularly felt, since the story isn’t about the family dynamic at all.

    The point of the “dead mother” criterion is to take to task a movie that wants to have a mother’s influence without actually having another (or any) female character present in that story. That doesn’t happen here.

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