I’ve already told you to go see Mad Max: Fury Road. Really, go see it, if only to get ideas for Halloween. I’m seeing it again on Sunday, after which I will post a full review. There are a lot of things to say about the film, artistically and thematically, and how it’s more than just an action film. A lot of teenage boys will want to see it (things blow up good), but really this is a film that teenage girls need to see, if only to have hammered home to them the point that – contrary to what Immortan Joe, the film’s villain, thinks (along with Boku Haram) – girls are not property. When we first meet the Five Wives – the harem of sex slaves whose rescue from Immortan Joe sets the film in motion – it’s from the brutish Max’s point of view, and for a moment the film seems to want to be a photoshoot for Vogue – or perhaps even Playboy. But it soons becomes clear that although the brides may be sex slaves, the film doesn’t treat them as sex objects. #GirlPower can be a silly, easily-dismissed buzzword, but if the modern cinema is teaching us anything, it’s that strong female role models exist, even if some people would prefer that they didn’t. Which leads us to Furiosa. I won’t bother repeating what you’ve probably already read many times in the last couple of weeks, that Charlize Theron’s performance as the sex slave-turned-gasoline scavenger-turned-sex slave liberator is one of the film’s many high points, and has already inspired fan art and cosplay.
Fan art and fun makeup are all well and good, as is the message to young girls that they don’t have to dress or behave like princesses, but it’s Furiosa’s fierce determination to challenge a patriarchal order that’s the most revolutionary aspect to Mad Max: Fury Road.
Tom Hardy’s Max is more of a sidekick than anything else. A very capable sidekick, sure, but this is really Furiosa’s story. With cropped hair, axle grease smeared across her forehead, a bionic arm, and a lifetime of unspoken hurt, cruelty and torment in those haunted eyes, Furiosa is the least likely role model young girls can expect. Which is precisely why she’s the best role model they could have. She’s not a girly girl. She’s not a bitch. She’s not a whore. And she sure as hell isn’t a damsel in distress.