The Man Who Envied Women Screen 5 articles

The Man Who Envied Women

1985

The Man Who Envied Women Poster
  • Perhaps because it takes her so long to fund and complete a movie, Yvonne Rainer tends to cram everything she knows into each one. The Man Who Envied Women is Rainer's first film in five years, and this bold, dense, and quirky rumination on love in lower Manhattan is the fitting climx to her Whitney retrospective. A bit long and occasionally repetitive, it's also startlingly frank.

  • It's strange to recall that as a modern dancer and choreographer, Yvonne Rainer was known throughout the 60s and early 70s as a minimalist. For the past 15 years, she has been making experimental quasi-narrative films of an increasing multitextual density, culminating in this angry, vibrant film of 1985... Here [Rainer] allows the politics to speak more directly and eloquently, and it charges the rest of the film like a live wire--rightly assuming that we could all use a few jolts.

  • By aligning audience identification with an absent female protagonist and having the male lead played by two actors, Rainer short-circuits the male-dominated power structures that the feminist film theorists had found to be ‘built into’ cinematic language. Rainer turns the male gaze/female object formula on its head by removing the female spectacle and fracturing the central, stable male identity.

  • Words as a means of individual expression can be a potent form of seduction. But words strung together as interchangeable syntactic cues towards a coded, contemporary social language can also transform the intrinsic materiality of words into an irrelevant - and incoherent - abstraction. The identification of this threshold between langue (language) and parole (word) lies at the heart of [...this] thematically dense and iconoclastic, yet uncompromising, articulate, and fiercely intelligent film.

  • I hadn't seen this in almost twenty years, and I was curious to see how it held up. Quite well, actually. Only two elements struck me as particularly dated: Rainer's odd lap-dissolve edits in the middle of scenes, and her use of the music of the Penguin Cafe Orchestra. Otherwise, we've been weaving in and out of this film's universe nonstop since Rainer made it. Not a comfortable ride, especially for its deserving male targets.

More Links