When Women In Films Get Short Shrift

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I spend most of my time checking out films by and about women. But I believe it's equally important to see other types of films, which is why I watched The Town.


I am a fan of thrillers and liked Gone Baby Gone so I decided to check out The Town, directed by and starring Ben Affleck. I think that Affleck is a better director than he is actor. He just comes off as wooden especially when he is partnered in scenes with Jeremy Renner who looks like he is about to explode in every instance. I'm so glad Renner is more visible now since The Hurt Locker because he is so exciting to watch.

For those who don't know the story it's about a group of guys who steal for a living. The film intimates that these guys became robbers because that is in their blood. It's passed down from fathers to sons.

I enjoyed the film but it suffers from the same problem lots of these films do which is that the women get serious short shrift. There are very few women in these guys' lives. Rebecca Hall gets the better treatment as a bank manager who becomes the object of Ben Affleck's attention. Hall is one of the strongest actresses of her generation and if you want to see her give an outstanding performance as the lead of a film, see Nicole Holofcener's Please Give.

But what they did to Blake Lively pissed me off. This young woman has gone from vibrant soccer player in The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and the sequel to drugged out young single mother in The Town (via TV's Gossip Girl).

And what makes me even angrier: I'm sure this is a part lots of young actresses wanted. Who wouldn't want to be in a movie like this? Great opportunity? Right? I wish that young women would look at a role like this where she is drunk and high the whole time and think twice about it being a good part.

She wears very little clothes, too much makeup, too big earrings. You know what I mean. The part that bothered me the most about her character is when she is asked about her relationship with Affleck's character. She says that she has been with him her whole life (even though her daughter is not his child). How is it possible for have them to have been together that long when she is in actual life 15 years younger than him. Did they start dating when she was five?


UPDATE: I was informed through a twitter friend (thanks @lulamaybelle) that she saw an interview with Blake Lively and Lively said the character was written as a 37-year-old woman and that she was desperate to play her. Has anyone seen the script? I don't know about you but Blake Lively surely does not look like she is playing a 37-year-old woman. Who do you think you're fooling?

This makes me even angrier. So now Hollywood is casting 22 year olds as 37 year olds and says that they are 37 year olds in the film but they really look like 22 year olds. Grrr. Here's the link to Lively talking about the character. (She says the part about playing a 37 year old at about 3 min)


Even with all the issues I had with the film (and most films have many issues that make me insane, even ones by and about women), I still thought it was a good film and I enjoyed it. It's great to see a new generation of directors finding their voices. I just wish that people had been as interested in seeing Drew Barrymore's film Whip-It as they are in fellow actor Ben Affleck's film. Whip-It was just as good and just as interesting - to me at least.

This post originally appeared on Women and Hollywood. Republished with permission.


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I thought she was fantastic and her role was so moving. Blake was very convincing. My only qualm was her teeth were too white! That took me out of a few scenes. In the movie, I don't think ages were ever mentioned, but I found them believable star-crossed lovers with an estimated age spread of about 7 years. Your big brothers best friend, who of us hasn't been there?

I was not thrilled with the storyline her character got, though. It troubled me. He dumped her easily for the uptown girl. She was written as unsalvageable, disposable. Maybe Blake played the role too vulnerable or tender, because when he denied her, I thought he was an ass. This movie had one Madonna, and one Whore. Partway through, you believe his mother is just like Blakes character. Then you find she was more of a Rebecca, and his search is over, purity realized. The thing is, you could write that same story from Blakes characters perspective, and we would have a very sympathetic Precious-esque film on our hands. But no, in a mans story, she is the traitor, turning him in for selfish reasons. And Madonna, at the last minute, warns him about "sunny days", remaining wholehearted pious.

I wonder if the Jlo/JGar dichotomy provided real life inspiration?