This post was brought to you by… your face from the Nineties, courtesy of Lisa Eldridge.
So I’m home at the Hacienda now – after a month’s worth of being on-edge over my research projects – and I’m still working on the Untitled Possible Next Screenplay, especially the Proust questionnaires for the two main characters. My main male character – again, still unnamed – remains elusive; one moment he’s an overgrown teenager in a fortysomething’s body, and the next he’s suddenly contemplative after getting blindsided by his wife’s death. (Yes, I’ve decided to make him a widower.) Since he’s supposed to be the protagonist in a comedy full of immature people – think: John Cusack in Hot Tub Time Machine – I don’t know if I’m ready to let him carry this much of a burden on his shoulders, unless he wants his dialogue to be purely expository.
The female counterpart, on the other hand, is another story.
Iris Garcia was supposed to be the Mary Sue: she’s meant to be impossibly beautiful and intelligent and funny, which obviously makes her the endgame love interest for our man-child of a protagonist. What she isn’t, in a sense, is sympathetic: how much virtue could you bring out of someone who had been arrested over a practical joke gone wrong?
What she is, as it turns out, is a catalyst – that is, her presence in the story puts everything in motion.
Our man doesn’t fall in love with her right away because of her strong ties to the school and the administration, not to mention her establishment-following ex-boyfriend who’s about to be honored during the alumni homecoming weekend. He mistakes her idealism for prudishness, just as she dismisses his immaturity as a form of mid-life crisis; it goes without saying that they’re in a constant state of trying too hard to antagonize one other, and it takes him a much longer time to realize that Iris is a much dangerous anarchist than he is.
Does this make Iris a femme fatale?
One of the things that I’ve learned from film theory class is that the traditional femme fatale never has a happy ending; if she doesn’t die, or face the consequences of her actions, she will find herself “domesticated” by the expectations of society, especially if she becomes the wife of someone who may or may not love her. But Iris already shows up as a domesticated creature, a former alumna in good standing as a respected science teacher, and there are hints that she has – supposedly – paid for her sins in the way that our hero should have done in the first place. There really is nothing bad-ass about her… or so it seems.
Feminist? Probably not. Weak? The jury’s out. But compelling enough to figure out how the male protagonist deals with his “issues,” women included? Definitely.