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American Mary (2012)
All Good Except For The Man-Hating
I really wasn't expecting much of this going in, so I was pleasantly surprised at the talent on display, much better than the average indie flick from unknown directors. The acting is really first-rate all round, without exception, and with particularly creepy turns by Paula Lindberg and Tristan Risk, especially. Other reviewers have pointed out the debt to Cronenberg, and there is a good deal of that same unsettling fascination for the human body throughout the film. The first third I was very much impressed, at the sound, the cinematography, the atmosphere, and I almost believed the inevitable wouldn't rear its head but no, 40 mins in, up it came, right on schedule.
Here's a new Bechdel test for women directors: try, just once, making a film WHERE NOBODY GETS RAPED. Apparently, this is much, much harder than it sounds, but TRY. Push yourself. I know you can do it. Try making a film in which men are actually human beings, and one whole half of the human race, instead of just some monolithic, oppressive 'Them'.
This is a misandric film because there are no normal men in it: all of them, without exception, are depicted as evil, weak and pathologically hateful towards women. All men are either thugs or psychopaths. The only even slightly tolerated male character is the bouncer at the strip bar, (a thug Mary can manipulate to do violence for her) who gives her sandwiches and milkshakes, while telling her not to feel bad about killing people: "you make sure they deserve it, then don't waste a minute of your time after they're done". Yeah, you go, girl. Oh and there's a detective in it who actually gets to say (to the twisted monster serial killer) "YOU'RE the victim here, Mary!!".
As usual, a single by-the-books fictional wrong is manipulatively inserted only to justify all the prolonged, orgasmic and utterly reprehensible violence upon men that then follows. None of it was surprising, and all of it is very much a cliché by now. Why do all films by women filmmakers dislike men so much? If you reverse the genders there is no way that this film could even be made, because both women and men would find the violence against women so reprehensible that no-one would show it, it would probably be banned, and certainly no-one would refer to the sick butcher within it as 'sexy'. Correct? But no-one in the reviews here or elsewhere even bats an eyelid at the genocidal hatred here displayed, they simply say it has 'a feminist slant', and leave it at that. And that hatred DOES emanate from feminist propaganda, so I guess they have a point, but it's a pretty ugly message it's selling, when all is said and done.
I don't want to completely trash the film, as there are, as I've said, more than a few good points in its favour, but it sure leaves a bad taste in the mouth.