BLACK WIDOW – Review by Jennifer Merin

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Australian director Cate Shortland, known for her femme-centric films that explore the woman — as opposed to human – condition, presents Black Widow’s two of the MCU’s beloved and well defined comic book blam! pow! take no prisoners female warriors as deeply traumatized women — sisters, in fact — whose troubled backstories — entailing what is essentially intensive child abuse — have rendered them to be emotionless killing machines who are filled with rage and completely devoid of love and unable to have babies — because, as one of them states quite notably, all of their reproductive organs were torn out of them.

The plot also involves the disposition of a chemical that will disable mind-controlling chips that govern the behavior of thousands of robotized women warriors — known as ‘widows’ — who are controlled solely by Drakov, the arch villain pimp of violence who intends to take over the world. Mind control is one of the film’s fundamental themes and, again, it is timely.

Scarlett Johanson and Florence Pugh, as Natasha and Yelena respectively, give complex and nuanced superheroine performances in which the quiet moments that reveal their relationship are more compelling than the bad ass fights that will satisfy the expectations of action fans, who will also be satisfied by the plethora of explosions through which the players parkour from impeding peril to transient safety. Continue reading on CINEMA CITIZEN

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Jennifer Merin

Jennifer Merin is the Film Critic for Womens eNews and contributes the CINEMA CITIZEN blog for and is managing editor for Women on Film, the online magazine of the Alliance of Women Film Journalists, of which she is President. She has served as a regular critic and film-related interviewer for The New York Press and About.com. She has written about entertainment for USA Today, The L.A. Times, US Magazine, Ms. Magazine, Endless Vacation Magazine, Daily News, New York Post, SoHo News and other publications. After receiving her MFA from Tisch School of the Arts (Grad Acting), Jennifer performed at the O'Neill Theater Center's Playwrights Conference, Long Wharf Theater, American Place Theatre and LaMamma, where she worked with renown Japanese director, Shuji Terayama. She subsequently joined Terayama's theater company in Tokyo, where she also acted in films. Her journalism career began when she was asked to write about Terayama for The Drama Review. She became a regular contributor to the Christian Science Monitor after writing an article about Marketta Kimbrell's Theater For The Forgotten, with which she was performing at the time. She was an O'Neill Theater Center National Critics' Institute Fellow, and then became the institute's Coordinator. While teaching at the Universities of Wisconsin and Rhode Island, she wrote "A Directory of Festivals of Theater, Dance and Folklore Around the World," published by the International Theater Institute. Denmark's Odin Teatret's director, Eugenio Barba, wrote his manifesto in the form of a letter to "Dear Jennifer Merin," which has been published around the world, in languages as diverse as Farsi and Romanian. Jennifer's culturally-oriented travel column began in the LA Times in 1984, then moved to The Associated Press, LA Times Syndicate, Tribune Media, Creators Syndicate and (currently) Arcamax Publishing. She's been news writer/editor for ABC Radio Networks, on-air reporter for NBC, CBS Radio and, currently, for Westwood One's America In the Morning. She is also a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association. For her AWFJ archive, type "Jennifer Merin" in the Search Box (upper right corner of screen).