The Women, the recently-released remake of the 1939 classic, delivers a massive cast of A-list actresses and promises surging feelings of sisterhood for every movie ticket bought. But with a lesbian character added to the update, this reviewer wanted to know how she was treated in a film aimed squarely at straight women.
Despite reading many scathing reviews, I still wanted to see The Women. Why? #1, it features the lovely Jada Pinkett Smith as a lesbian writer, and finding gay women in a big budget movie is like (insert your favorite "hard-to-find" metaphor here). #2, As self-important as it may sound, I think it's imperative to support films made by, for and about women, and #3, Despite my (now-obvious) Women's Studies background, I adore the original film in all of its catfight-y, backstabbing, campy glory. Besides, stellar lesbian/bi women web site AfterEllen loved it; could it really be all that bad?
Well, sort of. Though I would have loved to experience the uproarious romp with a tight-knit group of girlfriends the film promised, this gentler version ultimately let me down. Still, it had its moments. Some scenes were laugh-out-loud funny while others were surprisingly tender. The message of female friendship is incredibly strong throughout the film and the cast manages to exude the warmth essential to the 2008 Women, which the 1939 version intentionally lacked.
But you can read that in any of the hundreds of similar-sounding reviews. I'm here to discuss Jada's character, Alex.
Alex Fisher is woman-obsessed, flirty and tough. In other words, she's like a straight dude "ladies man" type, right down to the leather jackets, supermodel girlfriends and heavy drinking. Now, if the character were cast with a super-butch heavy-set woman, well, let's face it: the big-budget movie wouldn't have been greenlit. But, because a super-foxy actress was cast, she became the movie answer to Shane of L Word fame. This is what Big Hollywood considers to be "approachable lesbian?" Sex-crazed biker chick?
At least Jada pulled it off with some much-needed panache. And the way her friends are written, they totally accept her for who she is, dirty mind and all. She's right there in the mix, helping her friends in their times of need, and receiving love right back. Of course, I would've preferred more screen time for Alex, but when it comes to lesbian visibility in a big-budget movie, I'll settle for baby steps. In biker boots.
The Women is currently playing nationwide. Check out the trailer here: