Still from Goodbye Christopher Robin
Goodbye Christopher Robin

FILM

Where are all these women’s biopics, Hollywood?

Caroline O’Donoghue has had it up to HERE with movies about white male writers and their Truth

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By Caroline O'Donoghue on

Have you ever been in a situation where, no matter how good someone tells you something is, and no matter how much they say, “But you’d really like it! It's totally your thing!”, you stubbornly withhold that you still despise the thing in question? That, despite good reviews from people you respect, you’re still suspicious and jumpy, like Black Beauty being led blindfolded out of a burning barn?

That is how I feel about Goodbye Christopher Robin.

I know nothing about this film other than what I see in the trailer and yet every part of me is screaming, “Piss off, Christopher Robin.” Piss off, twee fantasies about life in early-20th-century Britain, where everyone is white, mildly scarred by the war, but still terribly attractive. Piss off, elaborate cut scenes where our heroes stroll through the vast green fields of the empire, naming fictional donkeys. Piss off, father-and-son-bonding movies. Piss off, another film about a wonderfully talented white male writer who is the sole person to realise the Truth, where the Truth is “War is bad; don’t do it”. Piss off, Nigel Farage wank fantasies that inadvertently prompt people to think, “Gosh, wasn’t England nice when it was just us?”  

I realise that this is all a huge overreaction on my part and has nothing to do with the combined, enormous talents of AA Milne, Domhnall Gleeson, Margot Robbie and director Simon Curtis. This is nothing to do with Winnie The Pooh and, to be honest, nothing to do with Goodbye Christopher Robin at all. This is about the same kinds of movies being made over and over again – namely about very brilliant white men who did stuff between 1920 and 1970 – and the kinds of movies we’re not getting, which is biopics about women.

You probably knew that this is where this article was going. We need more movies about women is the exact kind of statement you’ve come to expect from The Pool and probably a point we (or even I) have made elsewhere on this website before. But it’s a point I keep coming back to because, every other day, I feel like I find out about another incredibly interesting woman who no one talks about.

This is about the same kinds of movies being made over and over again – namely about very brilliant white men who did stuff between 1920 and 1970 – and the kinds of movies we’re not getting, which is biopics about women

 

And while the “We need more movies about women” thing is partly a moral, ethical, let’s-give-young-girls-more-heroines-to-look-up-to stance, I actually want this for completely selfish reasons. I want to be entertained. I don’t want to watch the same movie again. I want, specifically, at least one or more of the following women to have a lush biopic made out about her life, and quickly.

Patricia Highsmith

Patricia Highsmith’s mother once observed: “It’s funny you adore the smell of turpentine, Pat.” Why is that funny? Because Patricia Highsmith’s mother attempted to abort the novelist by drinking turpentine while she was pregnant. And this is, y’know, just a thing they used to joke about.

Honestly, the fact that there’s no Patricia Highsmith biopic is what started me on this extended tantrum of an article in the first place, because her life started with turpentine and just got more bizarre from there. She denied her queerness to the point that she publicly trashed her own book, The Price Of Salt (2015’s Carol, to cinema-lovers), which was written under a pseudonym. She would regularly sign off her correspondence as Tom Ripley – y’know, the sociopath that she herself created. She went on a blind date with Stan Lee! I honestly don’t know where to start or stop here with the fascinating facts about Patricia Highsmith.

But sure, let’s make another movie about Hemingway in Cuba. Great. OK.

Sister Rosetta Tharpe

She’s the godmother of rock ’n’ roll, the grand old dame of soul, but… no, I agree, we really need to make a movie about the guy who invented windshield wipers

Ching Shih

Ching Shih was one of the most prominent pirates of 19th-century China, who commanded over 300 junk ships. But perhaps you’re right – another Winston Churchill biopic is more pressing right now.

Constance Markievicz

As an Irish person, I’m always smugly delighted to tell people about Countess Constance Markievicz. This English countess once rented a cottage in Dublin, found a bunch of magazines promoting Irish independence there and thought, “Yes. I am so stirred by this cause that I will literally turn my back on my country and fight valiantly in the Irish revolution against England.”

I mean, honestly, the cottage-rental detail alone makes the movie a perfect investment opportunity for Airbnb.

Sylvia Rivera

Sylvia Rivera was a transgender woman who was almost like the Forrest Gump of activist history – in the sense that she was bloody everywhere, in the background, working away, influencing everything. She was an anti-war protestor, a civil-rights activist and present at the Stonewall riots. She was a homeless drag queen who fought for the lives of other people, but sure, let’s make a three-hour film about another American president no one remembers.

Amy Tan

I don’t know a lot about Amy Tan, but based on my repeated childhood readings of The Joy Luck Club and this tweet that I find myself constantly thinking about, I would really like to know much more about what it’s like to be Amy Tan. It doesn’t have to be a huge deal. Just a small, tastefully made film about the life of Amy Tan and her dog.

LITERALLY ANY MITFORD SISTER

Nancy. Decca. Diana. Unity. Debo. To a lesser extent, Pam. Pick one and make a movie quickly before someone makes yet another film about Steve Jobs.

@Czaroline

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Goodbye Christopher Robin
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