The story of psychologist William Moulton Marston, the polyamorous relationship between his wife and his mistress, the creation of his beloved comic book character Wonder Woman, and the controversy the comic generated.
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Guillermo del Toro
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Details the unconventional life of Dr. William Marston, the Harvard psychologist and inventor who helped invent the modern lie detector test and created Wonder Woman in 1941. Marston was in a polyamorous relationship with his wife Elizabeth, a psychologist and inventor in her own right, and Olive Byrne, a former student who became an academic. This relationship was key to the creation of Wonder Woman, as Elizabeth and Olive's feminist ideals were ingrained in the character from her creation. Marston died of skin cancer in 1947, but Elizabeth and Olive remained a couple and raised their and Marston's children together. The film is said to focus on how Marston dealt with the controversy surrounding Wonder Woman's creation.
The challenging---yet ultimately satisfying---approach of "Professor Marston and the Wonder Women", is that it isn't about any one thing, it's about several things (at least 3).
It's a *think piece* about relationships and sexuality. What's normal? What makes for true happiness? What sacrifices should the individual (couple, throuple) make to fit in to the larger society? Can men really be feminist, or does male privilege get in the way? Is sexual jealousy inevitable, or can it be transcended through empathy?
It's a heart-tugger, of very *human* beings facing real pain. But meeting that pain with real love---and then triumphing through their creativity.
And it's well, um, a loin-tingler: the sex is HOT! (And so few movies get that right). It's especially the accomplishment of the *female gaze* (thank you, writer/director Angela Robinson!) Female sexual agency (and even female romantic foibles---but played seriously, not for male laughs).
Even if this movie has some of the innate problems of the bio-pic (trying to make every Real Life Story aspect FIT into the mechanics of good drama), its narrative framing(s) lift it considerably above the average in this genre. There are at least 2: 1) the Child Psychology Board hearing (looking back at the beginning/evolution of the William/Elizabeth/Olive relationship, via the origins of the Wonder Woman comic, and 2) WM Marston's "DISC" theory: literally evaluating their individual lives and relationship, via Dominance-Inducement-Submission-Compliance. Marston tells us what makes for a happy life...but how much more powerful when the film actually shows us (in the struggle to get there).
All this, and lie detectors/Wonder Woman too! With a crackling script, and outstanding performances (above all, by Rebecca Hall: Academy, "For Your Consideration"!) If you're ready to think, feel---and then maybe have a fun night w/ someone(s?) special afterwards, "Professor Marston and the Wonder Women" is your movie. Make it a date night! ;-)
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