- Professor Marston and the Wonder Women (2017)
In the wake of the successful cinema run for the cherished superheroine, seeing the biography of Wonder Woman’s fascinating author on the big screen was only the question of time. But wonder no more: another talented filmmaker follows in the footsteps of Patty Jenkins to shed some light on the compelling backstory.
Having developed the concept over the years while she worked on multiple TV projects, Angela Robinson expertly uncovers the lesser known side of the comic creator’s life. Skilfully handling a story of a polyamorous relationship, she paints a thrilling picture of a love triangle based not on the rivalry, but consent and mutual trust. It’s a delight to observe the intricacies of their relationship portrayed with such great care. Robinson pays a lot of attention to the power shifts in this love triangle and allows the feelings between the characters to grow without cutting down on doubts or uncertainties.
Refreshingly, the story steers away from objectifying women with the eye of the camera; it stays on the tasteful side, without shying away from the story’s brimming sensuality. Even if the romantic level of the story follows a usual route, it tangles it adeptly and gives us three well-written characters with their own, albeit strongly entangled, lives. It also shows the audience just as much as we need to know. Avoiding overt explanations, justifications or creator’s imprints, the director escapes the issues that often plague biopics.
Although the sequences at the DC office that provide a spine of the story introduce Professor Marston as the narrator, women are truly at its heart. The interrogation scenes juxtapose the flashbacks which show the growing relationship and the struggles that come alongside it. On our watch, the director empowers her heroines. She makes them aware of their position in the society; Elizabeth’s struggles on the way to a PhD, and Olive’s initial dependence on her fiancé contrasted to her mother’s feminist actions comes to mind. However, she allows them to gradually liberate themselves from the shackles of conventions, warming us up to the characters from the start. Fully fleshed out and phenomenally written, they’re the driving force in this tangled biopic.
Bella Heathcote (The Neon Demon) proves herself again as a delicate academic assistant Olive. Her character is particularly striking as she grows from an innocent girl next door to a confident woman – building on her heroine’s strength and self-assuredness that intrigues us all along. She’s opposed (and completed) by a charismatic, straightforward scholar played by Rebecca Hall (The Prestige). Elizabeth Marston is undeniably the strongest point of the trio. Building on quick wit, sharp tongue and crushing intelligence, she presents the woman stifled by the society when it comes to her career and lifestyle, and confident enough to fight the frustrations it brings in every conceivable way. In their relationship, she’s got the most to lose, and Hall has a fantastic ability to make us invested in every choice that her heroine faces. Luke Evans (recently Beauty and the Beast) partners them as titular Professor Marston. The actor’s charm and mysterious aura reflect on his enigmatic character: both vanity and idealism hide under his well-weighed coolness. Depicting his pursuit of understanding of human nature and hopes to change the deeply engraved beliefs, he’s an equal partner for our fascinating heroines.
Introducing us to the nonconformist life of the Wonder Woman’s creator, Professor Marston and the Wonder Women gives us an enthralling tale of unconventional love that flips the stereotypes and stays away from clichés to charm us with its sensitivity.
Professor Marston and the Wonder Women was screened as a part of the 61st London Film Festival. It’ll be released in the UK on the 10th of November 2017.