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259 feature films. 19 days. 1 city. The 2019 Melbourne International Film Festival was a huge success - check out our reviews here!x

LADYWORLD

★★

EXPERIMENTAL THRILLER NOT SO THRILLING

SYDNEY FILM FESTIVAL REVIEW
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By Lily Meek
9th June 2019

You know those movies, the one's you watch and you're instantaneously motivated to go out into society and apply the explored message of the film? ...Yeah? Well, ‘Ladyworld’ is not that movie.

Deeply excited to watch a film explore the dynamics of female relationships, I sat there, resentful towards the way the film dealt with a much-needed wakeup call. What could have been a fabulous portrayal of the psychology and sociology behind female interaction is in fact a twisted, confusing and ultimately boring display of controversial, or just plain out-of-context actions.

Adapting William Golding's novel 'Lord of the Flies', director Amanda Kramer replicates the same scenario in the context of a female sleepover. What really lets the film down is the genre: experimental thriller. The platform doesn't fit the content and ultimately ends up hindering the message of the film. Kramer relies too heavily on abstract sequences more suited to a short film. When you're watching girls in conflict with each other for an hour and half, you can feel your eyelids getting heavier by the second. What's more, after the initial shock of the film's controversy/absurdity, it just gets predictable and hard to follow.

'LADYWORLD' TRAILER

With eight female leads, the prospect of an all-female cast was exciting given most films still fall short of the Bechdel Test. ‘Ladyworld' in its entirety is an all-female drama lesson taught by Kramer. If anything, it was a chance for the actresses involved to showcase their theatrical talent. Instead, the film sought to sexualise the cast involved. Sure, this was partly the point. Believe me, if the half-naked dancing doesn’t give you a clue, then the high-pitched female moaning utilised as the soundtrack will.

My final eye-roll moment came when the film all but turned into a “let's shit on men” party. I mean, come on! A female-led production, and somehow it still becomes about men. The aggressive approach towards representing the patriarchy is a little amateurish for my liking. Utilising the character of “the man”, his presence in the house becomes a tool for propaganda and fear-mongering. As far as making a point goes, it doesn't get any clearer than that. My anger throughout the film was driven by the application of this narrative point. If you're going to vilify a character or gender, at least give me plausible reason as a viewer to also dislike them. Alternatively, if the point of this plot device is to hold women accountable for blaming men, then it really wasn't clear enough.

What could have been a fabulous portrayal of the psychology and sociology behind female interaction is a twisted, confusing and ultimately boring display of controversial, or just plain out-of-context actions.

Whilst I appreciate the film's navigation of holding females accountable for the way we act towards each other, I can see how a male watching this film would feel targeted and/or annoyed for its aggressive generalisation of men and the way they view women. This then becomes more destructive to the qualities and message of feminism. Films with a feminist undertow should seek to portray inequality in a reasonable and educational format - not make men run away. As for me? I'm still waiting on a film that explores the positives of female relationships, no talk of men or catty behaviour; just real, empowering and relatable content.

FAST FACTS
RELEASE DATE: TBA
RUN TIME: 1h 33m
CAST: Annalise Basso
Ryan Simpkins
Ariela Barer
Maya Hawke
Tatsumi Romano
Odessa Adlon
Atheena Frizzell
Zora Casebere
Noel David Taylor
DIRECTOR: Amanda Kramer
WRITERS: Amanda Kramer
Benjamin Shearn
PRODUCERS: Jamie Dolan
Leal Naim
Thomas R. Burke
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