All too often movies don’t give enough space to women on-screen. Even more commonly, women are presented as two-dimensional, plastic characters that can only exist next-to a male character. But thankfully there are writers out there that know how to handle women. That’s why I wanted to highlight a few of my favourite female characters that may not be as violent and vengeful as The Bride in Kill Bill or as fierce as Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games. These are characters that manage to be memorable without the vendetta or sci-fi and I want more of them!
Kate – Drinking Buddies
I must admit, I haven’t been a devoted fan of Olivia Wilde or the women she’s portrayed. I didn’t feel anything when her character was killed off (In Time) and should I even mention her fleeting time as a princess (Year One)? But all this was forgotten when witty Kate came along in Joe Swanberg’s Drinking Buddies. Kate has a good job and what looks like a stable relationship until it’s not. Her reactions are sometimes over the top but somehow they still come off as realistic. Her back-and-forth flirting with Luke (Jake Johnson) is ultimately destructive but yet oh so good.
Beverly – Riding in Cars with Boys
A teenager getting knocked-up, opportunities lost, absent father etc. This is something we have heard and seen before, yes. But early on you can tell that our main character Beverly (based on the real life Beverly’s book about her life) is different. She doesn’t magically change when her baby boy is born. She doesn’t stop being a child just because she now has one to look after and the change into adulthood for her is more painful than for her son.
Kate – Smashed
People struggling with addiction is always difficult to portray on-screen but Mary Elizabeth Winstead brings a vulnerability and strength to Kate that shines through both in her best and worst moments. We follow Kate from the sad, embarrassing moments of intoxication to the painful realisation that she needs to stop drinking and through the roller-coaster ride that follows. Kate’s addiction is not pretty, but neither is the reality of an alcoholic’s life, and with relapses and painful realisations of what the future holds, Kate’s road to recovery’s painful and real.
Sherry – Sherrybaby
Okay since I’ve already talked about addiction in movies, let’s go even darker than Smashed. Sherry (Maggie Gyllenhaal) has just been released from prison and her daughter Alexis doesn’t even recognise her. At the same time as she’s working to rebuild her relationship with Alexis, she’s trying to stay clean from heroin and deal with a more than complex family situation. Gyllenhaal is incredible as Sherry and similar to Kate in Smashed, they’re both walking the thin line between being extremely vulnerable and tough which yet again makes for such an interesting watch.
Abra – Tjenare Kungen
Abra lies a lot, and not about the smallest things either, but we can’t help but love her anyway. She gets fired from her dead end factory job, alienates family, friends and a potential boyfriend all in the search for musical success. It’s a fairly traditional coming-of-age tale but with a female lead that truly carries the film it feels anything but plastic and it’s definitely worth a watch.