Marisa Costa + Makie @ Mad Max Premiere
A Film Review by Marisa Costa
Women Are Mad Too.
In some small way I’ve always thought that there were two kinds of films: action films, and all the others; Action films are loud, fast, and more about spectacle than story-telling. Obviously there are some great action films that tell incredible stories, but there is something about gender roles and the way we are prescribed them that creates this ludicrous divide between male and female tastes: men are supposed to like action, and women are supposed to like romance, or something. The fact is, women enjoy a good action film just as much as men; I’m always in awe of the stunts, the explosions, all the coordination and elements of surprise that happen in a good chase or fight scene. And in Mad Max: Fury Road the entire film is one long action sequence; out of the film’s 120 minutes, the camera seemed to hold stationary and zoom in on characters having a conversation for perhaps only 15 of them. Whenever this happened, I held my breath because, like the characters in the world that director George Miller created, you don’t know how long the quiet will last. And in true George Miller fashion, the effect created is that from the moment we open on an endless desert landscape with Max ripping the head off a lizard with his teeth, we are catapulted into an apocalyptic world of “kill or be killed,” regardless of whether you are a man or a woman.
Its unclear to me if this is sequel or a re-boot, but I don’t care. I always thought the strength of a film in any part of a trilogy or series is that you can watch the films out of order, or singularly and still know and care about the character’s in their world regardless of knowing the history. The film did exactly that; the set design, the costumes, and all of the action sequences (which as I said, make up the entire film) were nothing short of magical. Everything was created with such specificity, and not a dollar of the film’s budget was wasted. The other thing that truly amazed me was the script, which wasted no screen time and included absolutely no expository dialogue, and yet the story remained clear. Even our title hero played by Tom Hardy, who has the least screen time and the least amount of dialogue, is a fully-realized hero. We don’t learn much about Max and only get hints as to why he’s “Mad,” and yet we care. Hardy, an actor who can tell a whole story through a grunt, is a very different Max than the original played by a young Mel Gibson, but is equally as well-cast. His storyline in Fury Road, like the actor himself, is a slow burn where we are left feeling totally satisfied but still somehow, really wanting to know more.
I’m excited to see where the next installment will go, because in this first one, the film really belongs to the women; steered by statuesque Charlize Theron with a buzz cut, a mechanical arm, and a stare more powerful than a gun. The film centers around Theron’s Imperator Furiousa as she helps a harem of women, destined to live as property, escape the clutches of tyranny in a futuristic version of the underground railroad. The women are powerful, unafraid, and prepared to be just as brutal as the men. The environment created is one of true gender equity; it doesn’t matter who is man or woman, it’s about surviving in a world where the dangers level all the rules and roles. Clearly this kind of film-making is incredibly important when there are people in the world who feel the way that Aaron Clarey, a blogger on the Return of Kings website, feels.
Apparently this article has created quite a stir around the film’s female presence and now so-called Men’s Rights Activists have called for a boycott of Mad Max: Fury Road, describing it as “feminist propaganda” and bemoaning “liberal Hollywood’s attempt to undermine traditional masculinity.” I’ll let you form your own opinion, but please do, check out the article and, above all else, go see the movie. The criticisms leveled at the film are as incredible as the film itself, though for drastically different reasons. Mad Max: Fury Road is topical; it’s a beautifully well-made film about revolution. It’s about a cause. As Theron describes it, “[It’s] about being a woman, and not trying to put women on a pedestal, but being surrounded by other women in a story that was just real.” Apologies to Mr. Clarey for such an offense. I guess … women are mad too.