22 September 2000
Sexist review of movie. Not surprising. You want a world where women don't threaten your male privilige.
I am sorry that you got that impression from my review. Perhaps my view of the film would have been clearer if at the end of the the following passage I had added the words "as it is presented in this film."
Presumably, Gorris' point with all of this is that, unlike men, women are natural nurturers possessing strength and common sense. Taken further, she is arguing that matriarchy is a far healthier mode of social organization than what we currently have, which, despite the advances in women's rights, can admittedly still be classified as patriarchy. It may not be a completely outrageous argument to make, but it is facile and simplistic.
As I explained in the review, I didn't like Antonia's Line primarily because I found the characters dull and poorly conceived (with the exception of Antonia herself, and that was probably due more to the strength of the actress than of the writing), because the film put its politics ahead of its storytelling, and because it was a sloppy stab at "magical realism." These criticisms do not have to do with its gender politics.
A fourth reason I did not like the film was that it made its political points poorly, NOT that the points themselves were necessarily invalid. It's easy to suppose that if society were only organized as a matriarchy, the world would be a better place. That may well be true–and despite what you took from my review, I believe that it may be possible–but also that we're talking about a question of degrees. Individuals and society as a whole are far more complicated than Gorris allows for, and, to me, complexity makes dramas interesting, not simplistic conflicts of the kind found in Antonia's Line.
As for my comment griping about the fact that there are no positive male characters in the film, it has to do with my complaint that Antonia's Line is simplistic, not with a belief that poor downtrodded men are treated unfairly (puh-leeze). I hope you will take my word for it, but I find this sort of thing just as annoying when there are no positive female characters in a film–something that happens far, far more frequently, unfortunately. Certain directors, like Adrian Lyne (Fatal Attraction, Indecent Proposal), are reprehensible when it comes to that sort of thing, particularly in how they treat women who dare to step out of their traditional roles. How many movies have there been in which women have paid the price by daring to have a career while also trying to be a mom? An argument implicit in The Hand that Rocks the Cradle, for example, was that if ONLY Annabella Sciorra had been willing to stay home with her kid like she's supposed to, she wouldn't have placed that kid in danger. Yuck.
Thanks for reading.
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