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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

Where Are the Women? Regression

Where Are the Women? Regression

A movie that looks at first as if it might offer a good showing for women — or, at least, for one woman — descends into the hoariest of anti-woman clichés.

Warning! Some of the details here may constitute spoilers for those not familiar with the story.

BASIC REPRESENTATION SCORE: -10

-10
Could the protagonist have been female without significantly impacting the film as a whole? (for a film with a male protagonist) [why this matters]

FEMALE AGENCY/POWER/AUTHORITY SCORE: -10

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


+10
Is there a female villain or antagonist? [why this matters]
-20
Is her villainy/badness defined primarily by her gender (ie, is it related to motherhood, or is it of a sexual nature)? [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]


-5
Is there a woman who is raped (either onscreen or off) whose rape motivates a male protagonist? [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: -8

-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]

WILDCARD SCORE: -8

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

-5
Similar to the “woman paired romantically with a man old enough to be her father” issue [why this is a problem], here we have Dale Dickey (born 1961) playing the mother of a character played by David Dencik (born 1974). An offhand mention is made of the fact that her character gave birth to him at age 16 (which is still three years more than the actors’ actual age difference), but her youth and the fact that she was a teenaged mother has no bearing whatsoever on the story; this mention appears to be nothing more than an excuse for not casting an older actress.
-3
Similar to the “dead mother” issue [why this is a problem], the male protagonist mentions that he is separated from his wife (who does not appear as a character in the film), with the implication being that her lack of presence in his life is impacting, in a negative way, how he does his job.

TOTAL SCORE: -41

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 movie that looks at first as if it might offer a good showing for women — or, at least, for one woman — soon descends into the hoariest of anti-woman clichés. This is not a story about a teenaged girl overcoming her fear and shame to report sexual abuse and the beginnings of her recovery from it; instead, it turns her into a familiar sort of villainous female with little concern for what might have made her this way or even how she herself feels about what she says and does, and every concern for how her behavior impacts the men around her.


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

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

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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