I recently watched the film, “Mona Lisa Smile” starring Julia Roberts. The film is about a new professor at Wellesely College in 1954 dealing with changes in gender roles and the purpose of education. The film itself was impressive in its strong female cast of well-developed characters. Although Julia Roberts as the professor was the lead of the film, her students all had their own stories and character arcs. There was not one main female character in the film that I did not understand or felt was underdeveloped.
The film itself dealt with society normalcies in the 1950s concerning marriage and women pursuing a higher education. All of these characters had different views of what their education meant to them and where marriage would play a role in their own lives. The 1950s was a time of the stereotypical “American Dream” with a car, house, and housewife. This film depicts the women going through the transition into this lifestyle and the choices they make to either embrace it, or search for their own path.
So the content of the film itself was impressive and the performances by all the actresses were spectacular, but in many ways this film reminded me of “Dead Poets Society.” Both have a teacher who inspires the students to think outside of the box and go against the norm. Both take place in a same-gender school setting. Both have a strong group of students varying in characters.
I personally love films about school settings whether it be elementary school to grad school. That being said, I love “Dead Poets Society,” but have been frustrated about the lack of these films revolving around females. This is why I was so impressed with this film. But why is it that I have not heard of this film or seen it as much as I have with “Dead Poets Society”?
Recent films such as “Bridesmaids” and “Pitch Perfect” exemplify the popularity of majority female casts, so then why does it seem like there are less of these female dominated films? Is there going to be a trend in female ensemble films to add balance?