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Friday Night at the Movies // The Woman

This week’s movie review is the controversial film by Lucky Mckee The Woman. I first heard about this film during the whole Sundance uproar. Unless you don’t feel like following the link, here’s some guy saying it should be confiscated and not shown to anyone. Apparently a woman passed out during it, and this guy started yelling and causing a scene.

Here’s the official synopsis:

The Woman tells the story of a man who discovers a wild woman he brings home and locks in a shed with the intention of “civilizing.” He is met with resistance from his wife and daughters, and enthusiasm from his son, as his “training” techniques become more and more sadistic.

Let me say this first, I am no stranger to controversial and disturbing films. I enjoyed the first Hostel for what it was, an exercise in excess gore. Same way with the second in the series. I’ve seen the first 4 Saw movies, the first two being the only ones worth talking about. I own Begotten, Eraserhead, Tokyo Gore Police, many other ridiculously stupid Japanese gore flicks, etc etc. A Serbian Film keeps popping up on my radar but I do have limits and from what I hear, it crosses them, so no, I haven’t taken that plunge, yet. Is The Woman violent? Yes, compared to say, a pg-13 movie, but hey, it’s rated R. There is a rape scene, one, singular rape scene, where nothing is shown but a bare breast and half of a man’s ass. Honestly, as far as rape scenes go, it’s about as tame as it can get. I know a lot of people that can’t handle those kinds of scenes, and I respect them for that, I’m just desensitized. The Woman was something that became interesting to me and as soon as I got a chance to watch it, I did.

Imagine my reaction when it did not live up to my expectations. When I hear of someone getting upset over a movie, and someone physically reacting to it in some way, my expectations are pretty high on the “What horrible thing am I about to watch?” scale. If you’ve sat through Hostel, this movie is a breeze. The gore is not in excess, just to the extent that you would expect from the violence in the film. The aforementioned rape scene is handled with as much care as it could have been. I don’t understand why people were flipping out, honestly. Maybe I’m desensitized, or dead inside, or something. The movie is shot beautifully though, and my only complaint is the soundtrack. It’s jarring. As in, it doesn’t seem to fit the mood of the film, and was probably chosen to act as a juxtaposition of the situation with the soundtrack, which would be genius. I just didn’t enjoy it. It creates a disconnect from the fantasy and reminds you that you are just watching a movie. The only other thing that I couldn’t get over was the fact that Sean Bridgers who plays Chris Cleek the insane dad, looks and sounds a lot like Will Ferrell in the Legend of Ricky Bobby. It was a hard thing to get out of my head. The film is a slow burn once The Woman is taken captive, the time between her capture and 30 minutes to the end is just a snowball of unsettling character development, especially when it comes to the son. Those last 30 minutes contain a reveal that creates more questions than it has answers and the ending just kind of, happens. As we can all imagine, it doesn’t end well, like these types of things usually do.

I'm not saying there's something up with these dogs, but there's something up with these dogs.

I could probably write a really long post on all of the things this film is trying to say about our current culture, and if we really are civilized. Not to mention the whole gender politics and whether or not this movie celebrates the power of women (it does) or if it objectifies women and is insulting (it isn’t). All I’m going to say is that your beliefs going into this movie are going to shape how you see it, just like any other film. For me, the entire psychological part of the film hit me harder than any of the gore. At the beginning of the film, even AFTER the initial capture of The Woman, Chris Cleek seems like kind of an asshole, sure, but not a psycho. And really it’s not until way later in the film do you see him really change into a monster. I hated the wife character for being so weak at the beginning, when compared to how strong the Woman is. The movie just doesn’t hold any punches and I think that power to make you look at yourself, and the people around you, is what makes this movie so worthwhile. Lucky McKee just happens to have directed one of my favorite Masters of Horror episodes, Sick Girl, which is also a very strong female oriented film. I’m going to recommend this to you if you think you can handle it. I don’t think it’s a blockbuster, and I wish I hadn’t read so much hype about it beforehand but it’s worth a watch if you’re interested.