A Few (Surprising) Films That Are Bechdel-Test Safe

Two women, having a conversation about something other than a man. Is it really that hard?


by Jess Commons |
Published on

Here’s a fun fact to make your Tuesday extra brilliant. Entertainment writer Mark Harris has worked out that The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is the first film with a sole female lead to top the annual US box office in 40 years. FORTY YEARS. It’s the first one since The Exorcist in 1973. Oops.

As always there’s some debate raging over on Twitter about this claim; specifically as to whether Kate Winslet in Titanic counts as a sole female lead, ditto with Olivia Newton-John in Grease. In both of those cases however, there’s undeniably a strong male lead that acts alongside the female, and either way, Twitter should stop clutching at bloody straws.

Female representation in film has been big news recently as The Bechdel Test came back into mainstream consciousness towards the end of last year. Created in 1985 by cartoonist Alison Bechdel in her cartoon strip Dykes To Watch Out For, it’s become a handy (albeit problematic) way for critics to judge whether a film adequately represents women. The rules? A film must contain two women, they have to talk to each other, and it has to be about something other than a man. Simples, right? Wrong. Baffling amounts of films fall short of these pretty low standards; The Social Network, anyone? Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part II? Naughty Harry.

Despite an alarming number of films falling short of the test, the films in 2013 that did pass it collectively made more money than those that didn’t (small yay). Here’s some (surprising) Bechdel approved films from 2013.

The Counselor

Bizarrely, the film that describes Cameron Diaz’s vagina as “One of those catfish things… one of those bottom feeders you see going up the way of the aquarium sucking its way up the glass,” also features a long conversation between Cameron and Penelope Cruz’s characters about religion – amongst other things. Score 1 for womankind.

The Hangover Part III

Not famous for being the most-female friendly of franchises, The Hangover might be a total bro-fest, but this third installment does feature a short convo between Melissa McCarthy’s character and her mother.

We’re The Millers

Despite that unbearably gratuitous striptease from Jennifer Aniston, her character does chat to Kathryn Hahn’s about a baby (one that’s admittedly made out of cannabis) and Emma Roberts’ character about couch surfing.

Man Of Steel

Superman’s big on saving damsels in distress but it’s Antje Traue’s character Faora-Ul that helps Amy Adams’ Lois Lane to breathe on their spaceship.

G.I. Joe: Retalliation

As a Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson special, feminism wasn’t expected to come high up on this film’s agenda but Elodie Young’s ‘Jinx’ does introduce herself to another female at some point. Tenuous, but technically allowed.

Here's to 2014 people.

Follow Jess on Twitter @jess_commons

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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