Elevate Difference

The Actress

Directed by Zak Hilditch

The Actress is nothing more than another chauvinist movie that transforms the woman into the “foul temptress.” The “foul temptress” in this movie is an actress who moves in with three roommates: two men and a lesbian woman. The men have less than glamorous jobs, and one is a chronic masturbator. The lesbian roommate seems to be the most level-headed of the three, although she and her girlfriend have just broken up when the actress comes to stay.

This "actress" never goes to an audition while staying with the roommates and never pays rent. Instead, she proceeds to sleep with her three roommates. This is when she is not doing her laundry or lounging around hitting the bong. She begins with the male roommate who brings her to the house her first night there. Then she quickly moves on to the other male roommate and, finally, to the female roommate. She does tell the roommate, who foolishly thinks she is his girlfriend, what she is doing, and from then on the roommates, especially the two male roommates, start fighting each other for her affection.

A party thrown for the actress turns into a brawl between the two male roommates. The female roommate asks the actress to explain her behavior, and the response is a vague smile and silence. The actress even invites the female roommate’s ex-girlfriend to the party without the woman's knowledge. All the actress ever accomplishes is creating havoc. It is unclear whether or not the roommates will stay friends or continue to live together by the end of the film. Suffice it to say that, considering the movie so far, the ending was predictably unsatisfying.

No explanation is ever given as to why this woman is doing what she is doing. She seems bloodless, her actions pathological. She is the harpy, the temptress, the witch, the castrating bitch who comes into these people’s lives and hurts all of them. What is one supposed to take from this movie? Why does this character do these things, and why are her actions never explained? I am sick of "art" that depicts women in such a manner: that they are trouble, evil or put on Earth solely for the purpose of ruining men’s lives. Indeed, it is the men in the movie who fight over the woman. The female roommate is the sensible one who even says to one of the men, “No one is going to win here.” And even though the only sensible character in the film is a woman, she is a lesbian. What is one supposed to take from that? That only straight women are truly base, but lesbians are, at least, tolerated according to the male definition of sexual politics?

I found this movie pointless and offensive. The writer and director should be ashamed of himself for creating a work that depicts women in such a tired, clichéd manner.

Written by: Kent Page McGroarty, June 24th 2007

I have seen this film several times, as I like to support independent film in Perth, and I found it difficult to understand the reasoning behind your critique's perspective. I agree with the comment posted by anonymous, above, that read: "Personally, I found that the males portrayed in the film were of lesser moral character than the 'actress'"Even in your review you reiterated that it was the men who squabbled over the actress' affections. The film, at times, makes the men look like confused, competitive little boys who are easily manipulated into a macho battle. I hardly think this priveleges male sexuality in the narrative.I would argue that the portrayal of the men actually positions the actress as a more socially aware/intelligent being, with a more concise grasp of sexual politics and how to use them, as she is able to control the situation with ease. The actress, and her sexuality, are not necessarily depicted in a pleasant light. But this does not mean that the film is necessarily chauvanist just because the main female character is not perturbed about consciously choosing to wreak sexual and social havoc. That is just a choice she has made.I don't think this film conforms to such conventional ideas as "good" and "bad" characters, but rather uses complexity in building character and thus creates motivations which may at times be unclear, or seem contradictory- as in life. I appreciate this, as it means the viewer is not treated as an idiot. We are left with some questions, and required to create our own theories about the actress' motivations.My feedback on your review is that I found it scathingly biased. I would have been more inclined to consider the perspective of the reviewer if the argument had been soundly structured and appropriate critical language had been used. Rather, it sounded more like an angry rant than an intelligent film review.

"I am sick of "art" that depicts women in such a manner: they are trouble, evil or put on Earth solely for the purpose of ruining men’s lives."I find it interesting that this is the interpretation you took from the film - and subsequently state it as if it were the only one available. Personally, I found that the males portrayed in the film were of lesser moral character than the 'actress'. I felt that the reason her motivations were so unclear, was that the story chose not to concentrate on her true nature, but rather the inner lives of the other main players. She is merely a catalyst.I think the other main female player, or the 'lesbian' as you so bluntly title her, provides the counter point to your argument that this film intends to portray all women as "trouble, evil or put on Earth solely for the purpose of ruining men’s lives." Clearly this is not the case when "sensible lesbians" such as these exist within the story. This woman shows both her vulnerability and her strength by first colluding with, but then challenging the sexual and emotional goings on in the house, and rather than resorting to fighting with her 'competitors', she challenges the instigator of the events. Admirable qualities I think.I also admire this film's ability to provoke heated feelings and discussion - for me, this is an invaluable quality for any film to possess.Incidentally, there were 2 writers on this film, not just the one as you stated in your diatribe.

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