“Women in mainstream Hollywood dramas rarely use guns,” writes Anne Thompson in her Variety column. “Outside of the action fantasy realm, they don’t kill, and if they do, it’s a crime of passion involving a husband or lover. And they don’t kill repeatedly, for revenge.”
Thompson’s interview with Jodie Foster about her new film, “The Brave One,” speaks to the issue of women taking revenge on celluloid.
In the film, Foster plays a woman who, in retaliation for the brutal assault that killed her lover and transformed her, picks up a 9mm handgun and shoots to kill– repeatedly.
The film, which premiers at the upcoming Toronto Film Festival, isn’t the first movie released this year that casts a woman in the role of avenger. In the recently released “Descent,” Rosario Dawson plays a college student who is raped, and ultimately finds a path to healing by raping her raper. And, released earlier this year, the gripping “Red Road” follows a women security guard as she seeks out and plots to take revenge on the man who did something (no spoilers here) that left her bereft.
These three films are quite different in story, style and tone– but they have several factors in common. First of all, they’re all psychological thrillers with intense, complex, fully realized women protagonists– who’re not at all like figures from graphic novels or comic books.
Thee films were all projects developed by women. Although “The Brave One” was directed by Neil Jordan, Foster was Executive Producer and worked with screenwriter Cynthia Mort to revise the script. “Descent” was co-written and directed by Talia Lugacy. “Red Road” was written and directed by Andrea Arnold.
And the three films are all about women who, when abused, fight back in an attempt to regain control of their lives.
Anne Thompson comments that in “The Brave One,” Foster’s character’s violent behavior is likely to make audiences uncomfortable. And, as quoted by Thompson, Foster says, “The movie is subversive. That is its strength. It will ask people to head down into a very shameful place. Some people will embrace that and feel empowered by it. And some will resent it. Some people will root for that revenge because they’re with the character. But it doesn’t mean she’s not wrong.”
How do you feel about women seeking violent revenge on celluloid? Is it a trend? Are the rules different for women protagonists, or should violent revenge in films be equal opportunity? We’d like to know your opinion, so please leave your comments.