My next post in my reviews of Best Picture winning films! See all posts in this series here.
I saw this film once several years ago. The only things I really remembered is that this film is about racism and there is a little girl. After seeing it again, I have incredibly mixed feelings.
Good lord, the racism! The film's message (everyone is racist) was driven home over and over. I feel like it didn't have to be so intense, nor do I think this is how the majority of people actually behave. Furthermore, the film didn't have much to say about what needs to be done differently. The feeling I'm left with is that we're all screwed because everyone judges everyone based on the color of their skin.
There were also men and women of color. Which is great. Except for the fact that this film necessitated men and women of color. It wasn't that Loretta Devine was by far the best actress for her role. It's that Shaniqua needed to be a black woman with an incredibly stereotypical name. Not only are the characters' actions in this film racist, but the characters themselves are stereotyped. Come on. The white woman who is terrified of black men? The young black men who are "gang bangers"? The Latino man working as a locksmith? I feel like everyone thinks this film is so important because it is so brutally honest about race. Which it is. No one avoids race here. But that was so obviously the point, that it's absurd.
Also. Can we talk about the scene in which Thandie Newton's character is sexually assaulted? What the hell.
The Bechdel Test
*two named women? YES (Elizabeth, Jean, Shaniqua, Ria, Karen, Christine)
*who talk to each other? MEH...
*about something other than men? MEH...
Yes, there were named women. But I had to look their names up online because the majority of them weren't mentioned often enough to remember. This is partly the fault of having such a large cast. But do these women talk to each other? BARELY. I counted only three conversations between women in this film. The first, was before either character was named and it lasted maybe 10 seconds. The next, was between Jean (played by Sandra Bullock) and her housekeeper, Maria. The two briefly chat about Jean's son (doesn't count. He's a man.) before moving on to the dishes for two seconds. BUT THEN. There is a "tender" moment in which Jean embraces Maria and declares her "my best friend". Which frankly is ground-breaking. A white woman is best friends with her Latina housekeeper?! Shocking! But Maria doesn't say a word! This relationship (and conversation) is completely one sided! Ultimately, I am saying NO, this film does not pass the Bechdel Test.
So far, these Best Picture winners are not faring so well!