By Megan Bianco
In the midst of the hectic craziness of 2020 with the election, the pandemic, and the protests, we appear to be having a wave of feminist/girl power/women’s lib-themed biopics this year, as well. Five months ago, the FX mini-series Mrs. America aired to critical acclaim, followed by Phillipa Lowthorpe’s decent Misbehaviour in September and now Julie Taymor’s The Glorias to start October.
Lowthorpe’s new ensemble biopic, Misbehaviour, tries to mesh both the fun of girl power with the seriousness of feminism, to mixed results. The comedy-drama follows the events leading up to the 1970 Miss World beauty pageant in London, where the Women’s Liberation supporters secretly show to make their own demonstration. Though the reception for the movie has been mostly decent, one reservation is that the story is too serious and important for the lighter tone. For the most part, I personally was fine with the mood, though I can see why some viewers would want a more straightforward piece.
The third release is a feature film, The Glorias, which chronicles the life and career of feminist icon and journalism legend Gloria Steinem. Taymor’s epic biography follows four different actresses—Julianne Moore, Alicia Vikander, Lulu Wilson and Ryan Kiera Armstrong—portraying Steinem at various stages of her life. Interestingly, I think all three feminist history pieces this year came out in order of quality. The Glorias starts out as a surprisingly traditionally structured biopic, but then saves all the artsy “Taymor-isms” for when Moore takes over the film, making the tone and atmosphere feel disjointed and inconsistent.
All in all, I would say Misbehaviour probably could have said a little more about intersectionality in feminism, but it’s an enjoyable 105 minutes on screen, while The Glorias had a lot of potential between the intriguing subject matter, talented cast and impressive production values, yet misses the mark stylistically.