XL Popcorn – Wanda

List Item: Watch all of the “1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die”
Progress: 722/1007Title: Wanda
Director: Barbara Loden
Year: 1970
Country: USA

It’s 2019 and the world of film directors is still very much a boy’s club. 50 years ago it was even more so, which makes Wanda a really interesting film to see. As far as I am aware there are only 2 or 3 older films on this list that are older and feature a woman in the director’s chair – one of them being the 1953 film The Bigamist directed and starring Ida Lupino.

Considering the rarity of a woman directing her own starring role, especially before the turn of the millennium, it’s pretty obvious why Wanda would feature on the 1001 list. I mean, this is a list that is all about providing films that have unique perspectives and I am not sure how many earlier films gave a perspective of a woman’s existential crisis, let alone making a film that is sympathetic to a woman who has pled no contest in her divorce proceedings – thus giving her former husband full custody of the children (compare this to Meryl Streep’s character in Kramer vs. Kramer towards the end of the 1970s).

There is a lot here in Wanda that makes me wonder what Barbara Loden could have achieved with a higher budget and a similar vision. She and Michael Higgins so all they can to sell this film, but it’s hard to ignore the surrounding acting (some of it being pretty bad) and the very low production values.

If she could have made this with the same budget as Lady Bird (or the 1970 equivalent) then I think that this film could have been spectacular without giving up the realism. As it is, Wanda is interesting as it is harrowing and helps make the case that we need more women behind the camera so that we can get these types of stories up on the big screen.

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