The opening frame of a movie lays down the tracks for the picture to travel on. This includes on-screen text. Remember Inglourious Basterds? The first image we see after the credits is the text “Once Upon a Time in Nazi-Occupied France…”, giving the viewer the impression that Quintin Tarantino has crafted what he considers to be a fairy tale. When the climax of the movie happens, it works despite the historical inaccuracy. Under this logic, a movie starting with “Based on a True Story…” you need to be as accurate as possible. Unfortunately this movie is as close to the true story as the ones you read in the National Enquirer. Writer/director Angela Robinson intentionally avoided talking to any of the family members and instead cites an unnamed source for the basis of the polyamorous scenes in this movie. If I weren’t told this movie was about the origin of Wonder Woman only to be given a wholly inaccurate telling of that origin, I’d probably be writing a different review. If this movie were written by a man, I could probably write off the things that bothered me the most.
I went into the theater hoping for a feminist movie that made me feel powerful and proud. Instead, what I received was a poor representation of polyamory similar to the poor representation of BDSM in 50 Shades. I’m a big believer in polyamory. I think when both partners agree it’s best for them it can be an amazing and beautiful thing. While there is no solid proof that this was polyamory and not just polygamy, I can understand wanting to make the family polyamorous. I would love to see a positive representation of a polyamorous family. Instead we see a wife who can never decide what she wants. While Elizabeth is trying to be a strong woman and a great feminist, she can’t handle when Olive wants something she doesn’t understand or agree with. Instead of being a woman encouraging her husband to write a new comic book character that uses love over force, Elizabeth, who was the one that told her husband to make the character female, is a nagging wife that doesn’t believe it’s a good idea at all. The constant negative representation of a strong woman in Elizabeth is probably what frustrates me the most. Rebecca Hall plays Elizabeth so well but I want her to be given a better character to play. I want to see this writer/director write her own original stories because all the actors really did their best for her. I could go on forever with criticisms of Elizabeth and just how disappointing the Wonder Woman parts are but I’ll spare you. For now.
If this movie focused on DISC theory, I might love this movie. Elizabeth is very dominant throughout the movie and when she gives into to what other people want, it is often compliance. Olive is the perfect example of someone being submissive, induced by this couple to give into her wildest fantasies.
There are so many more things I could nitpick. I laughed when his lung cancer was made way too obvious and in a somewhat slapstick way. One of the positive reviews I read (in an attempt to convince myself I was wrong) incorrectly described the most visually appealing scene in this movie and I think that says it all. When the positive reviews rewrite the movie itself to set a character (Elizabeth) in a more positive light, something has gone horribly wrong. Revisionist nostalgia for a movie should not hit you that quickly. My husband also hated this movie but more for it being a cookie cutter Oscar Bait picture. The only movie I liked less this year was A Ghost Story and I don't believe it could get worse than those two.