Carrie review: women who hate women

Carrie green light Gabriella Wilde Chloe Grace Moretz

I’m struck by the perversity of a story four decades old about religious misogyny and basic feminism and the perniciousness of bullying that still feels fresh and relevant…
I’m “biast” (pro): nothing

I’m “biast” (con): wondering why this movie needed to be remade

I have read the source material (and I like it)

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

The first question to ask is this: Why? Why remake a classic film from a 40-year-old novel? I wondered about that from the moment I first heard we were getting Carrie again… and particularly why director Kimberly Peirce (Stop-Loss) would be interested in this. And now that I’ve finally seen it, the thing I’m most struck by is the perversity of how a story from four decades back about religious misogyny and the necessity of the most basic form of feminism and the perniciousness of bullying still feels fresh and relevant. So maybe that’s the reason to do up Carrie again: to remind us that a story that should feel dated, that would feel dated in a better world in which our society had progressed, even just a little, still needs to be retold. I mean, religion that makes women hate and fear the natural functioning of their own bodies should not be a perennial theme (see also Philomena); it should be seen as something evilly quaint, medieval, even, not of the moment. Yet here we have teen Carrie White (Chloë Grace Moretz, proving she’s got more than Hit Girl in her), who suffers horrendous abuse at the hands of her Bible-fanatic mother (Julianne Moore [The Kids Are All Right], deeply scary), a woman so appalled by her own “weak” female body that she neglects to alert her daughter to basic biology. And so when Carrie’s first (late-to-start) period hits in the high school gym locker room and she thinks she’s dying, it’s the “perfect” prompt for the senior-year Mean Girls to taunt her. I haven’t read Stephen King’s novel nor seen Brian De Palma’s 1976 film in years, so I can’t recall if this has always been true (I suspect it has), but I love that here, the truly scary stuff isn’t the telekinesis that begins to manifest with the onset of Carrie’s puberty (all the better to take revenge with) but the cruel pettiness of teenagers and how awful parents can be toward children they profess to love. And yet, could there be a bit of hope here, too, at least as regards the alleged scariness of women’s bodies? For the middle-aged school principal cannot even bring himself to utter the words “period” or “tampon,” but the teenaged boys seem to have no trouble with them — or the concepts behind them — at all. Maybe if Carrie is reborn again in the 2040s, she’ll fit right in…

Carrie by Stephen King [Amazon U.S.] [Amazon Canada] [Amazon U.K.]

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