Friday, January 13, 2012

The Woman

"The Woman is not beautiful and has no concept of beauty..."

This post may contain spoiler for those who haven't watched the movie. 

Recently I've watched another movie based on Jack Ketchum's book, The Woman. The premise is pretty simple: 

When a successful country lawyer captures and attempts to "civilize" the last remaining member of a violent clan that has roamed the Northeast coast for decades, he puts the lives of his family in jeopardy.

If you haven't watched or read the prequel Offspring, The Woman is actually a feral cannibal. The lawyer and his family are what you may see and think off as a very normal, civilized people. It is interesting to see how exactly this lawyer is going to 'domesticate' The Woman. Is he going to like, have a conversation with her, tea and all? Is he going to teach her to read? For all we know, The Woman will rather bite his head off than have formal pleasantries.

Pollyanna McIntosh as The Woman

I like to watch movies with moral, or taboo themes like sexuality, religion, racism and everything. I think it is important to clarify here that I DO NOT like movies that glorify killings, justify violence or promote hatred in any way. This is because when I got The Woman, my friend looked at me and straightaway said "You LIKE watching these stuffs, don't you?"

Well, it is not a pleasant thing when people thought you are 'into' murder. No. I like to think when I watch a movie, I like to be entertained while being thoroughly educated as well. I like heavy stuffs like The Woman because it gives something that people would normally avoid. Movie like The Woman is delicate too, because if handled without substance, can end up like one of the many sexploitation, murder-y, mindless violence movies I tend to avoid.

Chained up
First, it is very disturbing to watch, there is a rape scene, and I was some-what glad they did not make the rape scene erotic or anything. For all it matters, people are going to be disturbed with it and they understand that the lawyer is a power-obsessed sadist. There is also nudity, and kid-mutilation, and of course, cannibalism portrayed. If you're not of strong stomach, I won't recommend this movie to you. But I suggest those who are curious to give The Woman a chance.

Jack Ketchum is a brilliant story-teller. He explores things in a way no one could dream off. He unabashedly show the ugly sides of human, the immorallity within us, the sick desires and everything. If one is to analyze this story, I can pretty much sum up that The Woman is a metaphor for freedom and power. She is not confined to society's expectation, she lives according to her will, and she is completely powerful in that way. The lawyer might portrayed the patriarchal hold on women's lives, the power that control and bend them to its wishes, and is depicted as being the weak one as he uses humiliating methods to get what he wants. He treats the women in his house like trash and feels that women are burdensome creature that need to be educated, fed, and taken care of.

When he captured and chained The Woman  in the fruit cellar, he thought he can exert his power on her and  ultimately change her. When The Woman does not do what he says, he hurt her, threatened her and 'advice' her about being civilized. He tried to teach her by bathing her, putting her into dress, give her nutritious food, teach her to speak and everything. He thought of himself as some sort of a savior.

It was also very interesting to see how the wife is so submissive and supportive of her husband despite being disturbed by it. I think the wife portrayed the femininity that men promotes and expect of women, while the daughter portrayed the victim of said passive femininity (again, I do not hate femininity, I only hate the society's expectation and view in femininity). Because her mother never speaks out and is always obedient by her father, she ended up being raped and  pregnant by her father. Surprisingly this all happened under the knowledge of her own mother, and she never once defended her.

Now I'm not really sure, but I think the way The Woman thinks and acts is based more on animal instinct. I don't really think she pities the daughter- but she is grateful to her- and she is adamant to the wife's passive behavior towards her husband because the wife did not help her at all. Instead the wife helps the husband to keep her chained and in check. So when she breaks free, she just murdered everyone except for the daughters, since everyone else is hurting her. I think of the Woman as more of that vicious killer who is able to adapt herself to any situation by considering the advantages and disadvantages. She is a predator, and yes, she will eat anyone to satisfy her hunger- and her power.

The Woman is definitely a feminist movie in disguise. And one that is I would like to recommend to everyone if they're willing to give it a chance.



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