Pro­fes­sor Marston and the Won­der Women ★★★★★

Dir: An­gela Robin­son. With: Re­becca Hall, Con­nie Brit­ton, Luke Evans. 108 mins. Cert: 15

The Guardian - G2 - - Reviews - PB

As well as show­cas­ing the bland­est three-way sex scene in his­tory, this movie spreads an odd pall of sen­ti­men­tal­ity and pe­riod-glow nostalgia over a fas­ci­nat­ing real-life story. DC Comics’ sen­sa­tional Won­der Woman char­ac­ter was cre­ated be­fore the war by a for­mer psy­chol­ogy pro­fes­sor called

Wil­liam Moul­ton Marston, his aca­demic wife El­iz­a­beth and for­mer stu­dent Olive Byrne, who all lived to­gether in a lov­ingly un­con­ven­tional menage. Marston had a fas­ci­na­tion for bondage, dom­i­nance and ec­static sub­mis­sion to a lov­ing author­ity, and it all went into the crypto-fem­i­nist in­spi­ra­tion of Won­der Woman her­self. The movie is writ­ten and di­rected by An­gela Robin­son, for whom it is ev­i­dently a pas­sion project, but the pas­sion never quite sur­faces in the per­for­mances or the ac­tion. It is as if the movie isn’t quite sure how to ac­knowl­edge the ob­vi­ous role of male porn in Won­der Woman’s cre­ation and pop­u­lar­ity, or ex­actly how to match this with cel­e­brat­ing Won­der Woman’s fem­i­nist cre­den­tials, and the fact that it was, after all, aimed at kids. This cre­ates a forced sweet­ness and cel­e­bra­tory earnest­ness to the tone. Luke Evans plays Marston, preen­ingly vain in his three-piece suit, lec­tur­ing to sim­per­ing co-eds. Pe­ri­od­i­cally, the movie will show frames from the comic it­self, and th­ese ab­so­lutely pop: they are fierce, smart, funny and weird. But then we are back to the pon­der­ous drama it­self, which al­ways in­sists on a kind of deeply felt solem­nity.

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