I kind of fell out of the habit of keeping a media log, but I wanted to note this one down. On a random Twitter recommendation, I watched The Brothers Bloom tonight, and really liked the first 75% of it or so. Then it went completely off the rails from my perspective--because I kept trying to see Penelope as a real person, and the movie kept trying to make her a symbol and an object.
I am so tired of this.
If Penelope and Bang Bang were on an equal footing with Stephen and Bloom, the four of them would have sat down in Montenegro and worked something out like adults. But the movie can't let that happen because then Stephen and Bloom might change. Stephen might look beyond Bloom for an audience and for motivation in life. Bloom might learn how to have fun and appreciate his talents. Bang Bang might form a deeper connection than she ever has with Stephen or Bloom. Penelope might get to live a life of fun and adventure and family.
The movie concludes, "The perfect con is one where everyone involved gets just the thing they want." Bloom gets what he wants, more or less. Stephen gets a distant second-best to the thing he wants. Bang Bang gets ???. Penelope gets a miserable, grieving Bloom and a piece of paper that she wrote her dreams on. Not perfect, not by a long shot.
But: Bloom stealing the apple was perfect. Penelope charming the police chief was perfect. Bang Bang teaching Penelope demolition was perfect. Stephen's plotting was perfect. And all four of them could have had all those things, together, if they'd just sat down and talked about it and not permitted the world to not give them what they wanted. If they'd insisted not on the perfect con but on the best possible reality, and scorned false dichotomies and sexist bullshit about Penelope needing to be "protected" from the others' life of crime.
The person who recommended it saw it as "a straightforward existentialist narrative". (We had a whole long conversation about it here.) So if you like that sort of thing, it's the sort of thing you'll like, I guess. I just found it profoundly frustrating, a word I use way too often to describe movies and books. It's so tiresome. Why can't people write stories that are interesting and complicated and have female characters who deserve to be happy and realize their dreams and shape their lives?
The worst part is that the writer created a really splendid and amazing character in Penelope. She's smart, she's funny, she's interesting, she has a powerful personal philosophy and moral code, she has a wealth of talents. But once he'd written her, he had no idea what to do with her other than objectify her. A criminal waste.
Bah. Bah, I say.
On the bright side, this bit of TBB/The Avengers crossover fic, which hinges on Mark Ruffalo coincidentally playing characters in both films, fixes the ending of TBB in a pretty fantastic (if cracktastic) way. Superhero Penelope! Yes!