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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

Where Are the Women? The Messenger

Where Are the Women? The Messenger

As is all too typical, the men here get to have full lives (such as careers or talents that drive the story) while the women only to get to have those men.

BASIC REPRESENTATION SCORE: -10

-10
Could the protagonist have been female without significantly impacting the film as a whole? (for a film with a male protagonist) [why this matters]

FEMALE AGENCY/POWER/AUTHORITY SCORE: +3

+1
Is there a female character with insignificant screen time in a position of authority? [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: -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: 0

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

No.

TOTAL SCORE: -17

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

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

BOTTOM LINE: There’s a female doctor who appears very briefly who could easily have been played by a man. But the three women who figure significantly in the plot are present only for the impact they have on the men in their lives — even into the afterlife! — and whose relationships to those men are defined by sexuality or motherhood. As is all too typical, the men here get to have full lives (such as careers or talents that drive the story) while the women only to get to have those men.


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

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

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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