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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

Where Are the Women? Love & Mercy

Where Are the Women? Love and Mercy

The few women who appear exist solely as support for the male protagonist: a young wife early in his life and, later, a new girlfriend who reinvigorates him.

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: 0

[no significant representation of women in authority]

THE MALE GAZE SCORE: 0

[no issues]

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]


-10
Does a man police or attempt to police a woman’s sexual agency? [why this matters]
+10
Is he rebuked for it, either directly (by a character onscreen) or indirectly (by how it is depicted)? [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: -15

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

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

BOTTOM LINE: What few women appear here exist solely as supportive adjuncts to the male protagonist: a young wife (who is barely a character and speaks a scant few lines) early in his life and, later, a new girlfriend who is a more robust character in the sense that she actually impacts the story in a significant way… but still only in how she helps the male protagonist better his situation and return to mental health and creative spirit.


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

NOTE: This is not a “review” of Love & Mercy! 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 Love & Mercy.

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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