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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

Where Are the Women? The Vatican Tapes

Where Are the Women? The Vatican Tapes

No one gets anything approaching a personal journey here, but at least the one who comes closest is a woman in a role that isn’t particularly gendered.

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: +5

+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]
+2
More than one? [why this matters]

THE MALE GAZE SCORE: 0

[no issues]

GENDER/SEXUALITY SCORE: -10

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

WILDCARD SCORE: -3

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

While a dead mother isn’t an issue here [why this is a problem], a presumably alive but entirely absent one is mentioned, and the nature of her motherhood as well as her absence is a factor in the story. Functionally, the problem is the same as with the “dead mother” situation.

TOTAL SCORE: +2

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

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

BOTTOM LINE: The “characters” here are as thin as can be, and no one really gets anything approaching a personal journey. But at least the one who comes closest is a woman in a role that isn’t particularly gendered, even if some of the thematic issues surrounding her are problematic in this regard.


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

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

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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