It’s no surprise to see many of the films directed by women featured here and elsewhere focus on the female story perspective – you could solidly argue those as well are in too short supply in the film industry. Films about women, told by women. Let’s start with an Audrey Tautou double bill.
He Loves Me… He Loves Me Not (2002) – Laetitia Colombani
Refreshingly and unconventionally beautiful, Audrey Tautou’s striking features and expressive energy are utilized here to play a young woman, Angélique, who is on the one hand love-scorned, and on the other suspiciously manic. The delightfully alluring French film is directed by Laetitia Colombani, who, as well as projecting some well-adored European cinematic charm, manages to build a psychological romance that flips like a coin, giving us two perspectives of Angélique’s affection towards a local doctor. The pieces of this eloquent puzzle are perfectly poised (as is Tautou), the narrative strives, and succeeds, to bring the story strands together in unison, making this originally compelling rather than dis-satisfyingly predictable. – – – Robin Write @WriteoutofLA
Coco Before Chanel (2009) – Anne Fontaine
Audrey Tautou again. Those who assume the French actress is the quirky, sweet Amelie wherever she goes are so wrong, here she offers little amiability and warmth through her character (not a bad thing), but rather portrays Chanel as ruthless and ambitious – an extremely effective acting display indeed. Director Anne Fontaine is neither heavy-handed nor manipulating in bringing forth a version of the life story of one of the most influential and highly regarded fashion icons of any era. That said this is not just any old biopic, its accessible discourse also feeds us a well executed dramatic narrative, as well as giving us insight into “Coco’s” life – the film opens with Gabrielle as a child in an orphanage. Appropriately too the movie look lavish throughout. – – – Robin Write @WriteoutofLA
Fifty Shades of Grey (2015) – Sam Taylor-Johnson
It may seem bizarre to include 50 Shades of Grey in a list of films made by women given its evisceration by film critics and feminist viewers alike. To be sure, there are elements of saccharine melodrama and overplayed broodiness, though these owe more to the film’s source text than its execution. Having read the novel and viewed the film multiple times, I can say that whatever its failings as straight narrative drama, as a work of adaptation it is quite stunning. Director Sam Taylor-Johnson brings an understated indie sensibility to the script, improving upon the original material by keeping the performances of lead actors Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan remarkably toned down even during the most ludicrous of scenes. Husband and wife production design duo David and Sandy Wasco (known best for their extensive work with Tarantino) and cinematographer Seamus McGarvey make the film an objectively beautiful thing to look at. All things considered, as a text that influenced American culture in a major way and as a novel intervention in the tradition of the woman’s film, 50 Shades is a film everyone should see before discounting it. – – – Desirae Embree @ZeeSayre
2 Days in New York (2012) – Julie Delpy
At times ludicrous and off the boil, Julie Delpy still manages to inflict some familiar European charm into the comedic proceedings. Portraying the rather haphazard, farcical two days of the title in New York, this brings together a family of diverse cultures and backgrounds to cause minor mayhem. What Delpy’s swift hand succeeds for the most part is to mimic the lives of those that we hold dear, even when they are ultimately disruptive and rude. While not exactly laugh-out-loud hilarious, the comedy does garner much social wit and banter, some of the dialogue is so snappy and well-executed by the acting ensemble it makes for several chuckle-some moments. – – – Robin Write@WriteoutofLA
How to Make an American Quilt (1995) – Jocelyn Moorhouse
I’m not ashamed to look back and admit my overwhelming crush on Winona Ryder. Many of those movies she made back in the 1990s may well seem slightly dated now, some even forgotten, but they were to me, and others, cinematic blessings and guilty pleasures. Crafting a poignant, multi-generational story, Jocelyn Moorhouse weaves just the right amount of heart and soul into the light, but affecting, drama How to Make an American Quilt. The enchanting Ryder is surrounded by star turns from heavyweight actresses too, I wasn’t sure at one moment if the screen could handle the presence of both Ellen Burstyn and Anne Bancroft. – – – Robin Write @WriteoutofLA
Originally published in June 2016.