Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Baby Driver, before

Baby Driver

I'm writing this before I go to see Baby Driver (this should be posted just as it starts) because I want to get these ideas down before watching the film changes how I think about them.

I've rewatched all of Edgar Wright's feature output in the last fortnight, and even if I hadn't I'd be an easy target for Baby Driver. There's little doubt in my mind that he's the best action director working today (in the West certainly), and I've been on the edge of my seat for Baby Driver ever since the synopsis dropped.

But I'm very aware of my own hype for this film. I'm so caught up in the positive reviews - which I've not even read any of in detail, the buzz just feels inescapable - that I'm half waiting for the sword to fall and half imagining how and how much I'm going to be enthusing about after I've seen it. Hype is giving way to a cold animal fear that it can't live up to the rumbling positivity, and my brain is stuck on one particular angle.

All of Wright's films suffer from a dearth of strong women. The women in his films are almost all (or are they all?) sidekicks, or girlfriends, or girlfriends' mates, or maybe antagonists (but not the Big Bad). Baby Driver looks set to continue this trend, with the female lead both the protagonist's girlfriend and very probably a damsel in distress. She's even a waitress, for God's sake - basically movie shorthand for "I need a man to save me from my own existence".

Wright excels at employing tropes, but rarely subverts them (beyond transplanting American clichés to unprepared English idylls).

Is there a reason Baby has to be a guy? Couldn't Mozart in a gokart be a woman? I'm trying to think of something in the plot that would prevent a gender swap, but all I'm coming up with is that this is what the genre demands and that's just… not good enough.

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