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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

Where Are the Women? Mr. Holmes

Where Are the Women? Mr. Holmes

Women are necessary and present only for how the male protagonist feels about them, and how these feelings motivate him to do things for himself.

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: -5

-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: -5

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

Laura Linney’s character is primarily defined as the male protagonist’s housekeeper and caretaker… and the only deviation from that role is when she acts as the mother of a little boy. She does nothing and says nothing in this movie that is not about supporting these two male characters.

TOTAL SCORE: -15

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

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

BOTTOM LINE: Women aren’t so much an afterthought here as they are necessary and present only for how the male protagonist feels about them, and how these feelings motivate him to do things for himself. As we see so often, what’s important when bad things happen to women is not the pain of the women themselves or how it impacts their lives, but how it impacts a man’s life.


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

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

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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