Professor Marston & the Wonder Women (2017) Movie Review

By: Christian Harding (Two Beers) –

As much as my distaste for resorting to overused, commonplace platitudes has been well documented within my reviews on this site, I once again find myself needing to resort to one in order to best describe a film I’ve just seen. In this particular scenario: “The truth really is stranger than fiction”. Case in point, the real life backstory concerning the creator of the Wonder Woman comics and his rather… “unconventional” romantic entanglement with his wife and one of his university students, whom they both find themselves falling equally in love with. Rather than waste time on a useless love triangle sort of situation, the three decide (both in real life and in the film) to engage in a fully committed poly-amorous relationship, one which spanned multiple decades, and left a significant impact on all three of their lives. Such is the plot of the new historical biopic Professor Marston & the Wonder Women.

A Toast

For the sort of story Professor Marston & the Wonder Women is about to really work and be able to be taken seriously, it needs to have three very good, committed actors at the center of it; and fortunately that’s what we’ve got here. Luke Evans plays the titular role of Professor Marston – a college professor (imagine that!), the inventor of the lie-detector, and the eventual creator of the Wonder Woman comics – and does so with capable amounts of likability and gravitas. Bella Heathcote also stars as the student that has caught the eye of both the titular Martson and his wife, but the real standout of this trifecta is Rebecca Hall as Marston’s devoted wife Elizabeth. Once again, Hall continues to cement herself as one of the most reliably engaging and also one of the most underappreciated currently working actresses. The three of them all have very solid chemistry with one another and each person registers as a unique individual within the group, each one bringing something different and completely their own into their decidedly uncommon venture.

Very nice of the cast to recreate one of the year’s most well known memes.

Beer Two

For all that Professor Marston & the Wonder Women purports to tell an unconventional romantic tale, and succeeds in doing so, the constant reliance on token, previously established historical biopic cliches is a little disappointing. The biggest offender herein being an intrusive, and in hindsight, fairly unnecessary framing device. I honestly couldn’t think of one beneficial reason to include such a structure for this film, apart from occasionally reminding the audience that this story involves the Wonder Woman comics somehow and we’ll be getting to the point eventually. Add to that the fact that the film at certain points seems to be brushing over or just completely omitting what seem like key elements or component of the story, that seem both like important details to add to the proceedings and also just missed opportunities to add more drama to the plot. For instance, how do the trio’s children feel about their parents’ arrangement? Do they even know the truth? If not, then how do the three of them keep up their relationship without letting anyone on the outside find out? I wouldn’t exactly qualify these things as plot holes, but they’re questions that could potentially be raised by viewers, and these elements are left largely unaddressed, and it’s to the overall detriment of the film at large.

“I know you say that Gal Gadot doesn’t speak the best English, but did we have to recast her already?”

Meep

Verdict

Professor Marston & the Wonder Women is a good, solid presentation of an otherwise quite unique and decidedly unconventional story. The more formal, restrained directing approach doesn’t necessarily match the red-hot eroticism and overall kinkiness of the subject matter at hand, but the film certainly never downplays or criticizes these elements either, which is arguably a more commendable feat. Besides, if a film’s central message ultimately boils down to “If everyone in the world was more sexually open and liberated, the world would be a better, more peaceful place”, then who am I to argue with that?

Professor Marston & the Wonder Women (2017) Drinking Game

Do a Shot: for every reference to the Wonder Woman comics or characters.

Do another Shot: whenever it cuts back to the framing device.

Shotgun a Beer: for every bit of foreplay and/or unspoken sexual tension.

Finish your Glass: during the formative act of bondage, as seen on the poster.

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