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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

Where Are the Women? The Letters (aka Letters from Mother Teresa)

Where Are the Women? The Letters

A female protagonist who battles to wrest authority and agency for herself from a male-dominated institution is the sort of story we need more of.

BASIC REPRESENTATION SCORE: +25

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

FEMALE AGENCY/POWER/AUTHORITY SCORE: +6

+5
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]


+1
Is there a female character with insignificant screen time in a position of authority? [why this matters]

THE MALE GAZE SCORE: 0

[no issues]

GENDER/SEXUALITY SCORE: 0

[no issues]

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: +31

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

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

BOTTOM LINE: A female protagonist who battles to wrest some authority and agency for herself from a male-dominated institution is not the sort of story we’re used to seeing, and one we need to see much more of. It’s a pity that the film itself no more appears to recognize that this is what she is doing than her male superiors do.


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

NOTE: This is not a “review” of The Letters (aka Letters from Mother Teresa)! 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 Letters (aka Letters from Mother Teresa).

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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  • RogerBW

    No category for “is the protagonist shown as significantly prettier than the real person she’s based on”, and I suppose it wouldn’t often come up anyway.

    I think this is the highest rating for a red-lit film so far; it’s interesting to see that most of it comes from not having the rubbish that drags most bad films down.

  • No category for “is the protagonist shown as significantly prettier than the real person she’s based on”, and I suppose it wouldn’t often come up anyway.

    No, it wouldn’t, and this is also true of movies based on stories of real men.

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