From an age women disappear for Hollywood. With exceptions like Meryl Streep, the roles for them decrease exponentially and are limited to secondary, to be the mother or grandmother of the protagonist. As Aitana Sánchez Gijón said years ago on the occasion of the gold medal awarded by the Film Academy, a woman in movies went from being “the object of desire to the mother of the object of desire”. She always, moreover, as a passive object. They were the desired ones. For years the industry has been changing. Women have more roles, but they are still fewer and are still marked by age. Now the young women are already active subjects who desire, but when they become ‘older’ they continue to be one more secondary.
Albert Serra, filmmaker: “I am a gray hair in the air in the marriage of the spectator with conventional cinema”
It is the directors who are breaking all those barriers. The proof is Good luck, Big Leo, —which can already be seen in theaters and platforms— the film directed by Sophie Hyde and that shows that there are interesting roles for actresses like Emma Thompson, who at 63 years old delivers an exciting, funny and full of truth performance as a woman who decides to hire an escort to experience full sexuality that you have not had due to an unhappy and unsatisfying marriage.
A vindication also of the diversity of bodies in the cinema thanks to a scene that everyone comes out talking about. An integral nude of the actress, which shows her unretouched, natural body in front of a mirror. A body that continues to enjoy sex and that for the first time feels full. A body that is touched, that is discovered. A powerful scene that the actress turns into a symbol. In fact, many believe that her character in Good luck, Big Leo, may give you a new Oscar nomination. An award that she already has as Leading Actress for Return to Howard’s End and as a screenwriter for his work adapting Sense and Sensibility under the orders of Ang Lee.
After the presentation of the film at the last Berlin Festival, where it was screened at a special gala, people did not talk about anything else, and even more after the speech that the actress gave at the press conference and that confirmed the power of the film and that frontal nude. “Women have been brainwashed into hating our bodies. It is a fact,” she said and the room filled with applause. “I can’t stand like that in front of a mirror. Because if I’m in front of a mirror, I move, I put something on, I turn on my side, I do something. I can’t stand there because it’s horrible,” she said of how only canonical bodies seem accepted.
“Everything around us reminds us how imperfect we are: everything is wrong with us. Everything is wrong and you have to show yourself in a certain way”, she continued and proposed a challenge to all women, to do what she does in the film: “Approach a mirror without moving, take off your clothes and don’t move. Accept yourself, accept yourself and don’t judge yourself. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. I’ve done something I’ve never done as an actress.”
It was not an easy scene, in fact she herself recognized that “it was hard”, precisely because the media only teach canonical bodies. “This is a task for all of us. We’re just used to seeing bodies that, you know, have been trained… I knew that Nancy—her character of hers—wouldn’t go to the gym. She would have the normal body of a 62-year-old woman who has had two children.” A normal woman, like those who go to the movies and never see themselves represented but with this scene they will.
Women have been brainwashed into hating our bodies. It is a fact
Thompson’s presence in this film, which draws all its strength from its two actors and takes place in just a hotel room, was essential to launch this project. The screenwriter quickly thought of the actress and sent her the script. She responded immediately. “I read it and I had kind of a visceral reaction. I wrote to Katy immediately saying that she had to do this movie and that I really wanted to be in it,” explains Emma Thompson. “It’s unlike anything she’s ever read before: it’s a funny and moving story. I laughed so much that at the end tears came to my eyes, and from then on everything went very quickly”, she says in the film’s press kit.
The arrival of women in the industry in directing, script and production positions has made it possible for films like this to be shot and for there to be characters like Thompson’s, who in an interview with the international edition of ELLE magazine acknowledged that he had had the “more extraordinary opportunities in recent years and many of them have been written by women”. “So I feel incredibly privileged and lucky. I really do it because I think this has been the most fascinating moment. The roles that I was offered when I was forty years old were really very boring. They were all wife roles, ”she answered, showing the historical machismo of an industry that she has helped change.