It has been a long while since I've done my Woman of the Week, and I felt that I have been given a prime opportunity to bring it back. When I had first started doing my WotW's I had the intention to showcase women in horror that weren't just actresses. Well, I've completely failed in that aspect and I'm going to change that. Today I'm featuring a writer/producer/director who isn't just a woman, she's a brilliant mind who has created an absolutely amazing and horrific flick. This week's WotW is Elisabeth Fies, the director, producer, and writer of The Commune.
I first want to let you in on just how phenomenal her film is. The Commune tells a tale of a girl named Jenny who has spent her formative years with her single mom (played by Fies) while her tree-hugging, tofu eating, goddess praising, whacked out, mega hippie father lived and ran a commune. However due to legalities with a custody battle, Jenny must spend her summer and 16th birthday with her father and live amongst his crazy followers on the commune. So poor Jenny without luxuries like cable television, facebook, her puppy, fried food, and meat must learn to live amongst the creepy hippies. What starts off as just another typical, crappy summer for a teenager forced to stay somewhere they don't want, quickly turns into a Wicker Man-esque film and scenes that make me want to shower with Purel. I mean, who wouldn't want to if you looked out your window to find a masked man jerking off at you while you were fully clothed?
The film looks, feels, and probably tastes like a 70's flick but the attention to the smallest details are what really gives the film such a lasting impression. The score is impeccable, it's a very striking film with the use of color amongst the hippies, and the flashback scenes are quite scarring to those impressionable. They may have beat the "creepy dream" sequence to death, but as a whole, it was a minutiae issue. The film was cast fantastically and Chauntal Lewis is absolutely perfect as Jenny. She captured the innocence of a 16 year old, but still looked like every 16 year old girl today. IE: Over make-up'd, scantily clad, and completely looking much too old for any girl her age. David Lago *swoon* as Puck is just the right amount of bad boy and dream boat to make us instantly love him. The creepy hippies are, well, that. They're creepy as hell and I want them to all be committed or taken down by Elliot Stabler & Olivia Benson for being creeps. Jenny's mom (played by Fies) seems to be sort of the "more of a friend, less of a mom" character in the beginning but once you see the flick...the acting choices she made for the character are perfect for the role. All in all, I can't complain about any of the characters. That never happens for me, ever. I normally hate just about everyone, but I can't.
As a theatre student, it warms my little heart to notice subtle throwbacks. The fact Jenny's would-be love interest is named Puck and the film takes place in the summer soltice, made my little heart twitter with delight. Some people may complain about the pacing, but since it feels like a 70's film to me, I completely understand why it is the way it is. Most films with slow pacing are just droll until the final "HOLY CRAP" moment, this film is not the case. There are so many unsettling moments scattered throughout that the audience knows something extremely jacked up is bound to happen, the only question is when? The Commune has easily become one of my favorite indie films and I've proudly put my tye-dye peace signs (it came with the package from Elisabeth!) on my wall amongst my favorite movie memorabilia.
Kathryn Bigelow has just become the first female director to win the Oscar for Best Director or Best Picture (that hussy nabbed both!). Critics have been stating she only won because she is the proud owner of a vagina. I don't agree, I think that it is VERY possible that a woman can create a quality film. People like Elisabeth Fies are living proof that women can be more in the film industry than actresses and makeup artists. Fies is just bursting with talent from every angle, and if the big-wigs in the film industry had half a brain...they'd give her a big budget and the freedom to make a film with the same power as The Commune. Box office snob directors, eat your heart out.