The director in this upcoming film is calling for more women to take the lead in cinema.
We only have to look at Batman and Robin, Han and Chewie or Wayne and Garth to know that cinema audiences love a good bromance. Indeed, since Thelma & Louise was released in 1991, we’d struggle to list more than a handful of equally iconic female pairings.
That’s something director Susanna Fogel is trying to change as her latest movie, The Spy Who Dumped Me, gets set for release on 2nd August.
Starring Mila Kunis and Kate McKinnon, the film follows Audrey, a 30-something woman working a dead-end job who has just been dumped by text message. Naturally, her best friend Morgan is there to pick up the pieces, but things take a turn for the worse when it is revealed that Audrey’s ex is a CIA agent and the subject of an international manhunt.
With the bad guys hot on their heels, the pair is unwittingly launched right into the fray and their bond is tested to its limits as they hatch a plan to unveil an international conspiracy.
For Fogel, taking on the challenge meant tackling the average cinemagoer’s expectations as to what a womance (that’s the female equivalent of bromance, by the way) might entail.
“It’s been increasingly hard to make small stories about female friendship,” she told denofgeek.com. “And, definitely, those stories don’t have any shot of getting a theatrical release. So if you’re a filmmaker who grew up wanting to make a movie for people to have that female experience of sitting in the theatre together, it’s hard to do unless you can compete with the bigger spectacles that are being offered to them.”
The problem wasn’t just getting a film about female relationships on screen, but also about the double standards of stereotypical gender representation.
“I think the bummer of under-representation is that each piece of work has so much pressure on its shoulders to represent everything, and I don’t think that my movie represents all women, all feminists, all funny women,” she later told forthwritemag.com.
“It’s impossible, and I feel like the problem is that these movies go under a microscope that they can’t possibly live up to and by making them sort of check every box politically, you end up with a safer, more sanitised movie that can feel dated at the end. So, it’s a challenge.”
As she took on that challenge herself, Fogel extended the same one in kind to fellow creatives. Calling for more female writers and directors to step forward, Fogel launched a competition to coincide with the film’s release to offer women a chance to launch their careers.
While the jury’s still out on whether Fogel’s besties Audrey and Morgan are the Thelma and Louise of our generation, the director has certainly laid down the gauntlet for a new wave of female-helmed cinema – one that she hopes will continue.
“I hope that there are enough movies about women [so] that no one movie has to bear all of that weight,” she told forthwritemag.com. “There can be movies about women who are smart, women who are stupid, women who are funny, women who are too serious, there can just be everything. I’m hoping that is just the positive outcome of this push to tell more women’s stories.”
Also starring: Justin Theroux, Sam Heughan and Gillian Anderson
Running time: 120 mins
WORDS Camille Hogg