Where Are the Women? Maps to the Stars


“Strong female characters” doesn’t necessarily mean “good and noble,” as several complex but twisted women in this ensemble black comedy demonstrate.


Is there a female character with significant screen time who grows, changes, and/or learns something over the course of the story? (for an ensemble cast, or a film with a male protagonist) [why this matters]


Is there a female villain or antagonist? [why this matters]


Is there a female character with significant screen time who bares her breasts (but doesn’t appear fully nude)? [why this matters]


Is there a female character who is primarily defined by her emotional or biological relationship with a child or children? [why this matters]
Is a dead mother mentioned? [why this matters]


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

The “dead mother” is actually a character here, and hence turns the trope on its head to include yet another actual female character in the mix.


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

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

BOTTOM LINE: “Strong female characters” doesn’t necessarily mean “good and noble and wise,” as several complex but twisted women in this ensemble black comedy demonstrate.

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

NOTE: This is not a “review” of Maps to the Stars! 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 Maps to the Stars.

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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Tue, Feb 24, 2015 4:17am

Regarding the *male gaze* category, I’m not sure we saw the same version of this film, but in the one I saw, there was a threesome sex scene with Juliane Moore and another nude girl and a *fully nude man*…

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  a
Tue, Feb 24, 2015 10:02pm

The women were nude but not graphically so. The man is fully nude… but that has nothing to do with the representation of *women* on film. Please see the full criteria linked in the post.

Mon, Mar 09, 2015 1:10pm

Definitely lots of well-developed female characters. Personally, I’d have given a point for the therapist, too, on the basis of

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

Maybe an additional one for the agent, but I understand little about the authority level of an agent. A therapist, otoh, has a certain amount of authority, if only as a professional provider of health care.

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  LaSargenta
Mon, Mar 09, 2015 1:29pm

Hmm. She didn’t strike me as particularly authoritative. Here, she seems more nurturing (and in a sense a replacement for his unnurturing mother).

reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Mon, Mar 09, 2015 2:09pm

Oh, yes, there is the nurturing aspect. That can be inherent in the therapeutic process, especially when working with a child (which Bengie is, his therapist seems to be the only one who acknowledges that). But, I’d still consider her authoritative. In the later scene with his parents, she is laying down the ‘way it’s going to be’ with his parents; she also has the mantle of authority of her profession.