Helen Mirren, angry by the machismo of La Taupe

“There are how many women in this film? Come on, there were no women in the 70s?”, the actress got angry when she saw the spy film with Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Tom Hardy, Benedict Cumberbatch and Mark Strong.

Whereas Gary Oldman has just announced his upcoming retirementArte will rebroadcast one of its most popular films tonight: The mole. Adaptation of the novel by John Le Carré, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spyreceived excellent reviews when it was released in the UK, in 2011, but not by Helen Mirren ! “How many women are there in this film?wondered the actress of The Queen about The mole in the Sunday Times. Come on, there were no women in the 70s?

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If the actress has never hidden her anger towards the ambient machismo in Hollywood (going so far as to declare that she would not bow “in front of men aged 18 to 35 and their penises!”), she was the only one to tackle this film head on, an adaptation of a cult thriller by John Le Carré. His complaint? That he ignores the importance of women in the secret service: “There have always been a number of women at the heart of these services and they have played a major role in the reality. But they have fallen by the wayside with this film”

Critics were quick to respond, believing that this was not a flaw of the film itself, since the novel on which the plot is based also does not develop any significant female characters. Nevertheless, this outburst had the merit of reviving the debate.

In 2014, women directed just 7% of Hollywood’s 250 biggest films

Too many movies for men in Hollywood?
There where Helen Mirren touches a sensitive point, it is that the spectators who go to the cinema the most in the United States, it is the men of 15 to 35 years, explained at the time the Sunday Times. They therefore become the target of the studios, like the famous “housewife under 50” in France for television hosts. As a result, by targeting mainly men, most films of the moment offer the important roles to actors. And would forget about women altogether, only offering movies of guys for guys with guys – like The Expendables.

But is that really the case here? The mole is a British thriller aimed at adult viewers, effectively carried by male cast: Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Tom Hardy…beautiful people, then. A double agent story to unmask, in the middle of the Cold War. It is preceded by an excellent reputation, partly thanks to the quality of the basic novel, but also to the realization of Tomas Alfredsonnoted for his film Walrus. The project denotes current films, promising a dense plot, which unfolds slowly and mainly through dialogue. We are far from the muscular blockbusters to consume with a gigantic packet of popcorn. In his review for FirstGérard Delorme also called him a“anti James Bond”as this spy film never tries to be spectacular, nor sexy: “Following the incredible Walrus, the Swedish Tomas Alfredson confirms his qualities as a leading director by adapting John Le Carré’s most famous spy novel. Contrary to appearances, the subject is far from being obsolete, and we can even find points in common with Walrus. Smiley, the central character (superbly played by Gary Oldman), looks like a vampire, and not only because he is reborn after the symbolic death of his retirement. He is cold and devoid of feelings, as if prey to a state of moral and emotional frost, a pure product of the cold war that a world artificially divided into two camps was waging. Magnificently photographed, interpreted and staged, the film describes this world which has lost its raison d’être, and reveals a dizzying truth: the ” information “ obtained by the various secret services only served to run this gas plant which, on the British side, Le Carré called ” the circus “. Paranoia, betrayals and defections were commonplace there, because they were an integral part of this absurd system which needed to justify itself by inventing reasons to spy on each other. In the genre, The mole is a film of reflection more than action, which describes a complex reality rather than perpetuating a simplistic mythology. At the antipodes of a james bondit represents a model as successful as it is attractive.”

Should we transform the original story by adding an important female character, in order to avoid this type of negative opinion? Or was it better to stick to the novel? The absence of major roles for women is a real problem in Hollywood, far beyond this specific example and still relevant today despite a small improvement.

In 2019, there were more women in Hollywood films

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