We are two part-time academics. Ellen teaches in the English department and Jim in the IT program at George Mason University.

Volver: a film that satisfies the heart · 26 February 07

Dear Harriet,

I link in review of Almodovar’s Volver from the New York Review of Books, Daniel Mendelsohn on "The Women of Pedro Almodovar" (54:1, 3/1/07) and refer you to the review of the film I wrote two weeks ago: Volver: flowers are tougher than you think"

I’d like to add a comment. The other day Kathy C and I talked on WWTTA of how most publications offer reviews of non-fiction (maginalize the literary, artistic & imaginative in favor of social gossip and what’s thought information or fact), and how few reviews by and on women writers there are.

What’s interesting about Mendelsohn’s condescension and discreet derision of Almodovar’s work is nowhere does he until the second half of the article acknowledge the people in the films are heavily women. He simply rejects the point of view on reality as absurd, grotesque—the next word would be hysterical (as in hysterical women). He thinks Women on the Edge of a Nervous Breakdown silly. The ultimate implicit putdown is the comment these are "gay men’s" films.

He seems to like Volver because the women are seen as doing all right, not at all at a loss. This is to misunderstand the film which does not claim power for these women, only survival against desperate odds. It does not pretend to give a full picture of the world, only the one the women are permitted to live safely (or safely enough) in.

We can see here the limitations of the New Yorker (which I recall insinuated where the male writer on Janacek’s Jenufa in the opera was to blame for what happened to her, and her stepmother was a witch who really caused the tragedy): it’s a complacency repeated in many of the New Yorker articles. Both are very American periodicals.


Posted by: Ellen

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