Professor Marston and the Wonder Women (Robinson, 2017)

Chances are, four out of five people reading this review will never have heard of this film. “Wait, there’s another movie about Wonder Woman?!” they will exclaim. And to that I say: yes… and no. Technically it is about the superhero’s creator, William Moulton Marston, an ex-psychology professor who decided to test his theories on human behaviour (called DISC theory—Google it if you don’t know about it) by writing comic books featuring a strong female hero. Since he also heavily improved the modern lie detector test, he also gave her… yes, you guessed it, the magical truth-telling lasso. And who did he base his superhero on? The two most important women in his life: his wife Elizabeth, and his domestic partner Olive. Except, she was Elizabeth’s domestic partner, as well. They lived polyamorously, doing their best to make their arrangement seem normal. It may also have involved kinkiness, bondage and sadomasochism—but this is all speculation, which the film entertains. Convincingly.

I like how Angela Robinson envisions these people, who would otherwise be dismissed as stuffy academics, as highly sexual beings, and through that sexuality offers a pathway to living fairly and decently. The taboos of fetishism are overthrown. What we would offhandedly deem as weird or unnatural is shown to be completely natural. Utterly acceptable. And furthermore, it is sexy in a fulsome sense. Sexy because there is no abuse or bad blood here whatsoever: just three people enjoying each other’s bodies and minds in an unselfish way. The terms “polyamory” and “lesbianism” don’t even apply anymore. It’s love. It’s beautiful.

There’s little else I can say. Aesthetically, yes, it’s not amazing and veers too close to prestige filmmaking at times. The framing device, which features Connie Britton in a thankless role, is also unneeded, and would have made the film tighter if it had been left out. Otherwise, it’s a very good look into Wonder Woman’s origins, and one of those criminally underseen films that should be worth more people’s time.

Star_rating_3.5_of_5

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