Birds of Prey and the emancipation of Harley Quinn is quite a mouthful in terms of a movie title. So is the film, in good ways, some in ways that fall flatter than month old gingerale. For the most part, we are privy to the delightfully neurotic mind of one Harleen Quinn, played with magnificence by Margot Robbie. The standout of the film is Robbie’s performance, from her facial expressions to eye twitches. There’s a certain sadness behind her maniacal glee, some vulnerability lurking behind her chaotic fury. We see a woman scorned by her lover, cast away like debris, only to find herself afloat in a world full of danger. Danger being a world full of mysoginists.
Mysogyny and female empowerment are rampant themes portrayed within the film. In a post #metoo world, it is imperative that mainstream media and blockbuster films broach the subject more. Exposure is education after all. How effectively is this message conveyed though? One scene has Black Mask, played by Obi Wan- Ewan MacGregor that particularly made me uncomfortable. In the scene, Black Mask is given bad news, which hurts his seemingly fragile masculinity. He then proceeds to unleash a tirade of fury on a female patron of his club. He asks her to dance on the table and to strip her clothes off. The woman is clearly mortified, humiliated and on the verge of tears. Powerful imagery, which evokes a sense of anger and disgust with the knowledge knowing that this happens to women, in real life. Held hostage by their gender, beaten down by the patriarchy. The men in this movie seem particularly greasy, throwing slander and sexist remarks left and right. The main author of Quinn’s heartbreak and pain is notably absent. The joker is a no show, but that might be a good thing. This is Harley’s story. Her pain is ours to witness, as well as her triumph. The only thing that dampens the strong message of girl power is it’s sometimes campy writing. Mid fight requests for a hair tie might have been an attempt at comedy, but trivialize in small ways, the overall feminist vibe. Moments like those served only to perpetuate stereotypes needlessly. This isn’t the Spice Girls movie is it?
Brilliant set pieces make up a lot of the movie, full of rich color and music. I was very impressed with Quinn’s assault on a police precinct, where she non lethally takes out a squadron of cops with a shotgun that shoots confetti explosively into the air. Another is when a full on musical dancing and singing included, takes place in Harley’s psyche, showcasing again just how great of an actress she is. Supporting cast does the job of complementing Quinn’s story, but do little to truly stand out themselves. Black Mask is without a doubt one of the most boring villains to ever grace a DC movie, being that he is just a sexist piece of shit. Even Ewan Macgregor being cast did not save the role.
Plotwise, the story is not altogether hard to follow, but also lacks the same oomph as some of it’s Marvel competition. Imagery, music and tone prevail more than storytelling in this case.
Final Verdict: If you are a girl, a guy or anything in between or neither, go see the film. It may not have the same aplomb as The Joker, but touches on a subject that is all too familiar, yet needs to be addressed more. Feminism is a thing, it’s necessary and in my books, any movie that tries to advocate is a movie worth seeing.