Female Perversions (1996)

Female Perversions is the first movie by Susan Streitfeld based on the book by Louise J. Kaplan, starring Tilda Swinton and Amy Madigan.

Eve (Tilda Swinton) is a lawyer who is intelligent and successful but seemingly gets all her confidence and self-esteem from being seen as beautiful. She has an affair with a man, but also with a woman. At the same time, she tries desperately to impress her father who seems to loom over everything.
When her sister Maddie (Amy Madigan) is caught shoplifting, Eve leaves her life behind for a while to help her out, which leads to conflicts and confrontations.

Female Perversions is based on a psychoanalytical book of women sutdies [and yes, I mean women studies and not gender studies]. It’s a little heavy-handed sometimes. But they still managed to make a stringent, interesting story that touches on many issues in women studies. It’s definitely not without issues and the theory behind it seems dated, but it’s still very watchable if you’re interested in the field.

As I said before, the movie is not without issues. One of them being that the theory behind the whole thing seems woefully out of date. [Psychoanalysis in general seems to have this problem. Much has been done in this field since Freud’s days and Freud has made a lot of stuff happen, but seriously, people, the guy was a wacko and a coke-head and just plain wrong.]

To talk about only “female” perversions, as if there were perversions that are specific to one gender, is, in my opinion, wrong. To accredit it all, as usual [SPOILER] to childhood abuse [/SPOILER], is pretty one-dimensional. To basically leave out the matter of gender (there are some allusions to it, especially in the character of Edwina, but being butch seems to be a perversion in this movie, which I’d strongly object to) is just not okay anymore.

That said, I really liked how the book was incorporated into the movie: Every time you see something written, it’s a quote from the book. That was pretty awesome.

The performances were great as well. Not only Tilda Swinton’s, but everyone’s. And it was so nice to see a movie that aces the Bechdel test.

And there were some beautifully shot dream sequences.

Right after I saw Female Perversions, I watched Antichrist. And I’ll take misguided feminism over outright misogyny any time.

It was interesting but more as a historical document than actual modern feminism in application.


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