film has a notorious way of representing females through one-dimensional archetypes, determining their role based solely off of one characteristic, rather than allowing them to be what they really are: human. if you’ve seen as little as one film, you’ve likely crossed paths with either the “strong” girl, the manic pixie dream girl, the needy girl, the wild girl – the list goes on.
what film isn’t producing enough of are the kinds of female characters that’re realistic and therefore complex. as someone on earth, it’s likely you hover between all of the above roles in one single day. reacting to the world around us demands intricacy, which is why one-dimensional female characters are difficult to stomach – they don’t have room to cross between “contrasting” identities, modes of thought, values, humours – the kind of realistic flexibility that represents flaw, growth – a person. therefore, when putting female characters into a lidded box labelled “strong”, she has to always live up to the socially-constructed idea of strength in order to be seen as so. the character isn’t able to develop or change, and instead women are confined to simplicity.
but once in a while, female characters are written with the kind of layers that make them incredibly relatable. they’re the ones who experience the highs and lows, uncertainties, the stubbornness and spontaneity – sometimes they’re right or wrong or too loud or filled with sorrow or putting on a show or shutting down or apologizing or owning their identities. they’re changeable, rather than stuck. whatever they’re doing, it’s not always consistent with one adjective. whoever they are, they don’t always even know, but we can see bits of ourselves in them and that’s what audiences should be experiencing more often.
check out four fancy films that showcase real female leads:
STORIES WE TELL
sarah polley’s documentary film explores her own identity, through the complex life of her late mother.
SHORT TERM 12
based on destin daniel cretton’s short film by the same name, grace (brie larson) navigates through daily life – working at a group home, experiencing the dips and climbs of a relationship, and coming to terms with her own past.
mia wasikowska plays robyn davidson in this awesome adaption of davidson’s memoir. travelling across the australian desert, wasikowska chooses to go it alone and tackle a feat without any human company.
BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOR
the most talked about film of 2013, blue is the warmest color lets the audience into an almost eerily accurate depiction of the elaborate nature of love.*photo from surlymuse.com