Roar Review by Andrea Carnevali
Featuring an all-star cast, this ‘gender-bending’ anthology series weaves together eight feminist tales which examine subjects such as gender roles, autonomy and identity. Available to watch on Apple +
Based on a book by the same name, this anthology series is a collection of eight short films (30 stories in the book), all about women, in what feels like a mixture between Aesop’s fables, The Twilight Zone and Black Mirror, merging horror, surrealism, social issues, dark comedy and probably more…
Each story is very different from the others and they should probably all be reviewed independently, but they all have things in common: they’re all modern fairy tales about female empowerment, beautifully filmed, with a great cast (Nicole Kidman among many) and to a degree they all have great premises, but they all fail to go beyond the simple one-line synopsis and do something really meaningful with it.
The Woman Who Disappeared is about Wanda (Issa Rae) an author who’s in LA for a movie deal on one of her books, but who soon realises what it’s like for a Black woman to be in an industry run by mostly white men: invisible. An interesting start, but just when you are becoming invested in the concept, it all just peters out.
In The Woman Who Ate Photographs Nicole Kidman in trying to grapple with her mother’s dementia, discovers that by eating her childhood photographs she can relive those memories. And that’s pretty much it. Nothing else happens. A bit of a disappointment and a waste of a great Nicole Kidman.
Zero subtlety for chapter 3, The Woman Who Was Kept on a Shelf in which a model whose only life purpose seems to have been competing in beauty pageants, is kept by her husband on a shelf as a trophy. A rather cheap premise, which is so on the nose that it’s just embarrassing, but once again a great central performance Betty Gilpin.
In The Woman Who Found Bite Marks on Her Skin a woman struggling to balance her job and her life as a mother and wife, discovers strange bite marks all over her body (they are clearly a metaphor for the guilt she feels in neglecting her family).
Chapter 5 is The Woman Who Was Fed by a Duck in which Merrit Weves begins to date… a talking duck! Yes you heard me right… And believe it or not, there’s even a sex scene with it. Enough said.
The Woman Who Solved Her Own Murder stars Alison Brie as a ghost who unhappy about how the local detectives are handling the case of her murder, begins to investigate herself. A pretty obvious one, but rather fun.
The Woman Who Returned Her Husband tackles the realities of Indian women in arranged marriages. Meera Syal plays Anu, a woman who after many years of marriage decides to return her husband to a store and try some new ones. This was probably one of the best ones: sweet and funny and with rather predictable ending, but an ending nonetheless.
The final story, The Girl Who Loved Horses is a classic western tale of revenge, though with a woman at the centre of it. By this time I was just so bored I couldn’t wait for it to finish.
All of these stories are pretty clumsy, they lack subtleties and hit you over the head with their “not-so-well-hidden” meanings. In the end they pretty much all fail to really get under the skin of the issues they are trying to raise, instead they just trivialise them and simplify them too much making a mockery of the ultimate message they want to deliver. And just when they’re about to get interesting, they end… Just like this review.
Andrea Carnevali is a Bafta winning film maker who lives in Chiswick
Roar is available to watch on Apple +
See all Andrea’s film reviews here: Film reviews by Andrea Carnevali
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