“The Wolf Hour” is set in an era ripe for cinematic depiction; the summer of 1977. We spend part of this summer with reclusive agoraphobic June (Naomi Watts) as she is cramped in the smoldering heat of her stuffy, dusty, apartment in a dilapidated South Bronx walkup. An apartment with a window which--as June peers through with a cigarette in nudged between her pointer and index finger--seems to be a television with a crime show playing on repeat. The apartment itself is coated with dust; we see piles of books graying with grime, and what would appear to be discarded items pilling up in every corner. June herself has greasy coffee-colored hair; she is fleeced with a perpetual sheen of sweat. It’s miserable--the oppressive bleakness in her apartment mirrors the brutal crime outside. This is a rousing, dark look at a depressed, tortured woman’s self-imposed isolation. A near-colorless depiction of a mental struggle which is carried defiantly, from beginning to end, by a stunning performance from Watts.
Despite being one of Shakespeare's most notable heroines, Ophelia has unfortunately been lost in the heavily male-driven narrative of "Hamlet". However, Claire McCarthy's "Ophelia" will give her, and many other neglected female characters, their long-deserved voice. Starring Daisy Ridley as the titular character and Naomi Watts as Queen Gertrude, this film is equally empowering and inspiring.
At the 2018 New York Film Festival, actress Carey Mulligan was asked how she could get into character for someone as unlikable as Jeannette in “Wildlife” (2018). Mulligan explained to the shortsighted audience member that likability is more than niceness. It is finding a connection in someone. Mulligan transformed herself into Jeannette, a young mother who, while her husband is away, has an affair as she tries to find herself again. It is a beautiful performance about the way definitions can be thrust upon and shackle women.
So, what made her unlikable? Was it the infidelity? The selfishness? The uncomfortable self-exploration? It seems that male characters can do and be those things. We call them “complex” or “complicated.” We label them the “anti-hero.” But what makes that journey different for women?
In Greek mythology, Cassandra was blessed with seeing true prophesies but she was cursed with never being believed. She foresaw the Greek soldiers hiding in a wooden horse but the Trojans stopped her from hacking it open. She was forced to watch the destruction, knowing it could have been avoided if only they'd have listened.
Such is the fate of teacher Harriet Wilson (Octavia Spencer) in "Luce" (2019). She sees the warning signs about one of her students, Luce, but is completely dismissed by his parents and other teachers.