Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Boondock Saints

Yesterday evening I watched The Boondock Saints with some girlfriends. It was the first time I'd seen the movie. The violence was not usually what I'm eager to watch, but it had some beautiful moments and a properly suspenseful plot. The kind of film that I can understand why it becomes iconic.

I couldn't help being bored, however, by the lame roles of the few female characters in the film. Now, you can come right back and say there are plenty of "women's" films that have cardboard male characters, and you're absolutely right. You can make your blog post about those. Right now I'm blogging about these.

There were a small handful of women throughout the entire film, in scenes lasting around 1 minute 30 seconds. They pretty much had no lines, and when they did talk, the dialogue was always vaguely unnecessary, something extraneous to the plot of the film. Some of them, I presume, were forensic scientists, since they wore white lab coats and had their hair pulled back in important, no-nonsense ponytails. But they never seemed to contribute any actual scientific findings to the crime scenes which they were investigating.

At one point in the film, towards the end, the main detective, who is a riot, is going nuts at the scene of one of the final crimes, a suburban home where massive shootings have taken place both in and outside the home. He can't figure out who these guys are, even though the Boondock Saints are amateurs and doing stuff that he says you "can't do in movies" (cue comic drum and cymbals!).

Meanwhile, the female forensic scientist is taking blood samples from a splattering on one of the new jersey-blue-blood-suburban-home pillars, and making over-exaggerated gestures of exasperation, making me think that she was not classically trained in Method acting. She expresses her distress at not being able to get a good blood sample, and hyped-up detective man comes over to help her out of what should be her job.

He leans over and sniffs the blood, has a conniption about it, draws out the drama of telling everyone what he's discovered, and waves a smear of the blood in the scientist's face, causing her to flail her head away and make a face. Eww! He put something icky near her!

It's ammonia, he announces. The Saints have sprayed it on their blood so that you can't get a decent blood sample. Those Irish scamps! Everyone gasps at the detective's brilliance, and the female scientist makes a figure of wonder and chagrin (she doesn't talk anymore; her dialogue moment is over). Ah, ammonia. Well, now we know.

But why didn't she know? Ammonia is a pretty common smell; it's in your urine, in bad fish, etc. And she's a scientist. I know one of the comic subplots of this film was to present the detective as brilliant and everyone else he works with as a hopeless rube, but even so. Would it have killed the director to let the scientist be the one to say "oh, it's ammonia," and then let detective have his monologue rant? I mean, this is a bloody scientist, but she can't figure out why that blood sample won't take! What a waste of a lab coat.

I bring this up mostly because when I watch films like these, the women in them are so one-dimensional and dumb, and I feel forced to identify with them. Maybe that's just how I watch movies.

Still, let me reiterate that The Boondock Saints is an artistic and powerful film, with a complex look at social justice. I get why it is iconic. But I get annoyed that portrayals like these are generally disregarded because something is iconic. It's like how slavery is kind of okay in Gone with the Wind because awww, look at those pretty dresses! There was a moment in Saints where the Don wants Rocco to tell a joke with the word "n*****", but I feel pretty sure (or I hope?) that the audience is supposed to feel suitably appalled by it.

Well, I've probably offended a great many people with this. If it helps, just pretend I was wearing a white lab coat when I wrote it and disregard the whole thing.

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