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Watching womanhood: 8 movies in defense of the ‘chick flick’

Watching womanhood: 8 movies in defense of the ‘chick flick’

Never fear, this week we’re bringing you a list of movies that celebrate and explore womanhood in its many forms. Don’t worry, we’ve checked, and they all pass the Bechdel Test! From tearjerkers to films that will have you in stitches, we’ve got your next night in sorted... 

Bend it Like Beckham (2002)

An absolute British classic, Gurinder Chadha’s chef-d'œuvre is a noughties testament to girl power. Most of Chadha’s films explore the lives of Indian women living in England, and their struggle to reconcile their often conflicting traditional and modern cultures. This film might seem like a simple quirky comedy about a girl who loves football, but it also explores the complex social and emotional issues faced by a second-generation British-Asian girl caught between two worlds. In the end, it’s an uplifting tale that encourages us all never to let go of our dreams just because they don’t fit the mold.

Thelma and Louise (1991)

The plot for this nineties film revolves around two best friends who set out on an adventure in a sweet ride, but it soon takes a turn for the worse as the two women evade being arrested for crimes they committed. It might come off as your average criminal caper, but if there’s one film that encapsulates the power of female friendship, it’s Thelma and Louise. As things fall apart, the two women face the world together, “Louise, no matter what happens, I'm glad I came with you”.

Erin Brockovich (2000)

This eponymous biographical film is based on the true story of an unemployed single mother of three, Erin Brockovich. Played by Julia Roberts, the woman falls victim to a traffic accident and seeks legal support, but when her case is lost, Brockovich insists that her lawyer hire her. She eventually becomes hooked on a case which ends up with her taking down a big company that is poisoning the residents of a small town. Without having received any formal legal training, Erin is a strong and competent woman who brings an unethical energy corporation to justice.

Trivia tidbit: early in the film the real Erin Brockovich makes a cameo appearance as a waitress named Julia! 

Brave (2012)

It’s well known that fairytales don’t always have the best portrayals of feminist heroes (looking at you Little Mermaid, Cinderella, and countless other Disney princesses). Too many female characters sit in their castles and wait for rescue, after which they marry their prince and live happily ever after. But this animated picture is an exception to the outdated rule. Disney’s fiery-haired princess, Merida, is a headstrong teenager who shuns the arranged marriage her parents have planned for her. A must watch for any Disney fans who enjoy seeing a Scottish lass take her problems into her own hands.

Girlhood (2014)

Directed by Céline Sciamma, this gritty portrait of a teenage girl’s life in the Parisian projects is an honest and non-judgmental look at ‘coming of age’ in an urban setting. The movie tells the story of Marieme, a girl who lives in a rough neighborhood on the outskirts of the French capital and soon becomes part of a gang. It’s a complex cinematic exploration of race, gender, and class. Sciamma aimed to capture the stories of black teenagers, a group underrepresented in French film.

Fleabag (2016)

For the serial fans among you, we present the BBC Three dramedy, Fleabag. Created by Phoebe Waller-Bridge, this show follows a London-based woman as she tries (and often fails) to cope with life in a big city while coming to terms with a tragedy. It’s bleak and it’s dark, but it makes for compelling television. A second series is planned for broadcast in 2019, so get watching! 

Lady Bird (2017)

It’s the one we’ve all been talking about, the film that took home the Oscars for Best Motion Picture and Best Actress. Set in the early noughties, this film tells the coming-of-age story of a high-school senior and her turbulent relationship with her mother. Directed by Greta Gerwig, the movie is a warm and authentic semi-autobiographical tale of a confused young woman who frequently clashes with her mother, Marion. Marion’s concerns about money and domestic order are of little interest to Lady Bird, who is instead preoccupied with boys, her social life and daydreaming about what the future might hold.

Gloria (2014)

Fans of Spanish cinema rejoice. This movie by Sebastian Lelio tells the story of the titular Gloria, the embodiment of midlife frustration. Gloria is lonely and finds herself at a crossroads in her life until she meets a romantic businessman. However, she soon finds that things aren’t always what they seem, and our heroine is in for a brutal reality check. It’s been described as one of the greatest modern roles for an ‘older woman’, as the free-spirited character rediscovers life, love, and heartbreak in this critically acclaimed film.

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