Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of one Harley Quinn
Gonna to take a brief break from books to talk about this film, which I have been looking forward to for a long while. I have been meaning to do a few non books reviews and failed to get round to it so I am pleased I have managed to sit down to write this.
I have been a fan of the character of Harley Quinn for a very long time, since she was introduced into the 90s Batman cartoon.
If I am honest I can’t entirely remember why I loved her back then, I think something about her brokenness called to my own. As a teenager I loved the whole Harley/Joker thing, as an adult I am far more aware of the problems and after seeing Suicide Squad especially, I was certainly looking forward to seeing what this film could do for the character.
I shall also admit that I don’t really know much at all in regards to the Birds of Prey group so don’t expect any particular comments or criticisms in regards to that as I don’t know enough to care one way or another as to whether they are as they should be according to the comics. And if anyone is wondering, the main thing that puts me off superhero comics is the oversexualisation of the female characters, combined with the sheer amount of them there are, it’s a little intimidating.
But anyway, very brief (spoiler free) synopsis of the plot is that Harley has broken up with the Joker and is dealing badly with the break-up. When she publically outs herself as single she now has to deal with a whole lot of people who want to kill her or hurt her for her past misdeed, this include Roman Sionis (Ewan McGregor). Added to the mix is that teen thief Cassandra Cain may have stolen a very important diamond and people are desperate to get their hands on it and her.
When watching the film it is exceptionally clear how female led the film is: female director, female writer, and two female producers (one of which is Margot Robbie). This was pretty much Margot Robbie’s pet project, though I think at first she had wanted to do a Gotham City Sirens film (something I would kill to see, gimme Harley/Poison Ivy already). The women are sexy and gorgeous, but the camera does not linger on boobs and asses and it was such a rare and refreshing treat. There is even a point when Harley is soaked to the skin and there’s no nipples or sexualisation of it.
There are also some unsettling scenes with women being treated badly by men and even the way those are framed is really different. Usually there is something in them which makes them weirdly sexual, violence against women is often used to titilate male viewers and I felt like that there was none of that here and honestly it was a delight.
The film itself is a riotously coloured parade of violence with some rather unsubtle women vs men bits in it. It puts the womens’ stories front and centre, many of them being women of colour or queer women (or both!) This was definitely my jam and I really, really want them to make more films like this please!