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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

Where Are the Women? Crimson Peak

Where Are the Women? Crimson Peak

A fantastic example of how a film can integrate the “traditional” sides of women’s lives into wider depictions of their hopes, dreams, and deeds.

BASIC REPRESENTATION SCORE: +25

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

FEMALE AGENCY/POWER/AUTHORITY SCORE: +10

+10
Is there a female villain or antagonist? [why this matters]

THE MALE GAZE SCORE: 0

[no issues]

GENDER/SEXUALITY SCORE: -18

-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]


-3
Is a dead mother mentioned? [why this matters]


-10
Does a man police or attempt to police a woman’s sexual agency? [why this matters]

WILDCARD SCORE: +2

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

Explicit play is given to the uphill battle the female protagonist faces in her attempt to do something that men do without anyone presuming they’re not cut out for it by dint of their gender: write fiction. And the film handles this with subtle reminders, deployed in witty dialogue, of the many women who succeeded at such work and at whom no one would scoff.

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: Both the female protagonist and the female villain have elements of their characters and motivations that are about traditional depictions of women — these are related to love, romance, marriage, and sex — yet neither is defined exclusively by these factors, and both have larger ambitions to their actions. So the film becomes a fantastic example of how a film can integrate these sides of women’s lives into wider depictions of their hopes, dreams, and deeds.


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

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

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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