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part of a small rebellion | by maryann johanson

Jodie Foster goes it alone a lot

When The Brave One opens on Friday, audiences will see Jodie Foster in the same position she’s finds herself in onscreen an awful lot: alone. Sans man. In this new flick, for instance, she goes on a vigilante rampage through the streets of New York City after her financé is brutally murdered by street thugs.

It would be easy to suggest that the kinda-sorta-out-but-not-really lesbian is deliberately choosing movies that don’t pair her up with a guy or — as Brave One does — dispatches the guy ASAP. I don’t think that’s the case, though. I suspect it’s more a matter of the limited imagination of Hollywood, which doesn’t generally know how to create a strong female character, the likes of which would appeal to an actress of Foster’s caliber, in the presence of an equally strong male character. Women onscreen in studio films tend to end up playing second banana to a man… unless the man ain’t there in the first place. Until Hollywood starts learning to tell stories that don’t let the gals get eclipsed by the guys, I’m sure Foster’s films will keep trending the same way.

See more lonely Jodie in these movies:
Flightplan (2005): Jodie’s aeronautical engineer — and widowed mom — takes on terrorists in the skies over the Atlantic. Where’s her man? In a coffin in the cargo hold. [buy at Amazon] [my review]

Panic Room (2002): Jodie’s new owner of a posh NYC brownstone — and divorced mom — takes on home invaders who crash her pad. Where’s here man? Shackin’ it with some tramp on the Upper East Side, probably. [buy at Amazon] [my review]

Contact (1997): Jodie’s SETI researcher takes on antiscience idiots when a message from aliens turns the world upside down. Where’s her man? Her beloved dad is dead, and she’s an atheist: there’s no Big Man talking to her from upstairs. [buy at Amazon] [my review]

Sommersby (1993): Jodie’s lady farmer takes on the man who claims to be her husband, a Civil War veteran returning after long years away. Where’s her man, really? Probably dead in a field somewhere. [buy at Amazon]

Little Man Tate (1991): Jodie’s single mom takes on everyone who disses her genius little boy. Where’s her man? She’s got only the little one of the title. [buy at Amazon]

The Silence of the Lambs (1991): Jodie’s FBI agent in training takes on the world’s most notorious — and most charming — serial killer. Where’s her man? Her beloved dad is dad, she dismisses suggestions that her boss is sexually attracted to her, and she blows off the nerd who hits on her. But you could almost say that this is the movie that proves the rule I mentioned above about guys and gals in movies together by being the exception: Foster more than holds her own against Anthony Hopkins. Hannibal Lecter is her man, and she doesn’t get eclipsed by him. He’s not exactly someone you settle down and buy china with, though. [buy at Amazon] [my review]

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  • “Hannibal Lecter …. He’s not exactly someone you settle down and buy china with….”


  • MBI

    Knowledge of Foster’s personal life lends a surreal touch to “Maverick” where she’s crawling all over Mel Gibson.

    Not nearly as much the Ellen DeGeneres vehicle Mr. Wrong though.

  • MaryAnn

    Knowledge of Foster’s personal life lends a surreal touch to “Maverick” where she’s crawling all over Mel Gibson.

    Why? She is an actor, after all. Actors act things they don’t really feel all the time. Why should this instance be any different?

  • Isn’t it weird how people do that? Like, no one’s saying, “Man, watching Anthony Hopkins in Silence of the Lambs is surreal knowing from his personal life that he isn’t really a murdering cannibal!” For some reason, the only thing it’s weird to see people pretend to be on-screen is the opposite of their real life sexual orientation.

  • Jurgan

    It’s weird to me to see someone very vocally out, like Ellen DeGeneres, playing straight, because she makes such a fuss about it that it’s hard to forget. That’s not saying that people shouldn’t talk about their sexuality. Just that, the more they talk about it, the harder it is to forget when they’re on screen.

    How can you say there’s no man in Contact, though? What about Palmer, Matthew McCounaghey’s (sp?) character?

  • MBI

    Yeah, I have no defense of why I find it weird. I just do. Although you have to admit, “Jodie Foster, sex bomb” is weird on its own.

  • MBI

    Also, I have no evidence that Anthony Hopkins is not a murdering cannibal.

  • The L.A. Times had an interesting article a couple of weeks ago about the appalling lack of movie roles for strong women — particularly women who have committed the unforgivable sin of turning forty. Accordingly, some of the best actresses working today have been migrating to television, where better parts are apparently waiting for them (and indeed, entire series can be based around them). Glenn Close, Holly Hunter, Kyra Sedgwick, Lili Taylor… the list is expansive, and fairly troubling. One wonders how long it will be before Jodie finds some cool new series on Showtime and leaves the movies behind forever.

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