Flying: Confessions of a Free Woman (review)

A six-hour documentary about one New York woman’s sex life and associated neuroses? Is it Seinfeld on estrogen? Well, yeah, maybe, if Seinfeld had dared to be about something. Filmmaker Jennifer Fox turned her camera on herself over the course of several years, as events both tragic and happy in her circle of female intimates prompt her to reexamine where her own resolutely independent life has taken her: unmarried and childless by choice in her 40s. Shockingly personal, in that cosy way of a secret female conversation, Fox discusses her affair with a married man; her deep desire not to turn into the angry, bitter, unfulfilled women who raised her; her conflicted feelings about potential motherhood; the constant pressure from all sides to mold oneself into one idea of womanhood or another; and other tender and contentious issues that modern women are coping with on a daily basis. But Fox’s global network of friends expand the conversation further, as women in such farflung places as Pakistan and Cambodia reveal their most private thoughts on sex and love in cultures where they have far less autonomy than Fox and her audience do. Astonishingly, not once in the course of the six hours does the film feel self-indulgent or blinkered: Fox’s soul-baring honesty and willingness to concede that she is still figuring out this life thing turns what could have — probably should have — been nothing but egotistical and self-centered into something profound and universal… at least for half the human race. The film is currently playing in three two-hour blocks on college campuses, at festivals, in arthouses, and in cultural centers around the country (see the official sites for details); it will likely air on the Sundance Channel later this year. Don’t miss it.

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