Could the protagonist have been female without significantly impacting the film as a whole? (for a film with a male protagonist) [why this matters]
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:0
Is there a female character (either a protagonist or a supporting character with significant screen time) in a position of authority (politics, law, medicine, etc.)? [why this matters]
Is her authority presented as having a negative impact on her life? [why this matters]
THE MALE GAZE SCORE:0
Is there a female character who is primarily defined by her emotional or biological relationship with a child or children*? (*in this case, an adult child) [why this matters]
Is there anything either positive or negative in the film’s representation of women not already accounted for here? (points will vary)
The male protagonist makes reference to his dead wife, which has the same impact as mentioning a “dead mother” [why this is a problem].
IS THE FILM’S DIRECTOR FEMALE? Yes (Nancy Meyers) (does not impact scoring)
IS THE FILM’S SCREENWRITER FEMALE? Yes (Nancy Meyers) (does not impact scoring)
BOTTOM LINE: While at first glance it looks as if this could be a film that represents women well, every potential positive comes with an accompanying negative. This is ostensibly a woman’s story, but the film’s protagonist is male and her tale is told secondhand, through his eyes. She holds a position of authority, but the entire story is about how this authority negatively impacts her life, and the “solution” presented for her problem is no solution at all, and is only going to ensure that the negative impact of her authority continues.
NOTE: This is not a “review” of The Intern! 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 Intern.