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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

Where Are the Women? Trumbo

Where Are the Women? Trumbo

Helen Mirren makes a very fine villain indeed. But all the other woman in the story are nothing more than supportive adjuncts to the male protagonist.

BASIC REPRESENTATION SCORE: -10

-10
Is there a woman who is mostly pretty awesome and perfect who is present to support a man improving himself? [why this matters]

FEMALE AGENCY/POWER/AUTHORITY SCORE: +15

+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]


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

THE MALE GAZE SCORE: -5

-5
Is a woman or women used as decorative objects/set dressing? [why this matters]

GENDER/SEXUALITY SCORE: -5

-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]

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: -5

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

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

BOTTOM LINE: Helen Mirren makes a very fine villain indeed. And wielding a villainy that is not gendered! But all the other woman in the story are nothing more than supportive adjuncts to the male protagonist, from the saintly wife who stands by him to the daughter who is inspired by him. If only it could have avoided the occasional usage of women as decorative objects, it would at least have scored a neutral zero.


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

Click here for the ranking of 2015’s Oscar-nominated films for female representation.

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

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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