In this episode, we discuss two recent films directed by women about how women commodify themselves and are commodified by society and the people around them: Wendy Morgan’s Sugar Daddy and Rebecca Zlotowski’s Easy Girl. We ask how these films comment on patriarchal norms without (or if they manage to do so) reproducing them.
This episode features Editor-in-Chief Alex Heeney, Executive Editor Orla Smith, and staff writer Lena Wilson.
On This Episode
- Sugar Daddy (12:18)
- How Sugar Daddy explores performing femininity and masculinity, what that means, and how that can be used as a currency
- How Sugar Daddy works as a portrait of an artist
- The complicated psycho-sexual dynamics between Darren and Gordon and how it pertains to her performing identity
- An Easy Girl
- How the two homes in the film — Naïma’s apartment in Cannes and the men’s yacht — reflect the characters who live there
- How An Easy Girl make us aware of the lower class labour that greases the lives of the rich in Cannes
- How these two girls are performing (or not) for the world, and how the lifestyle of the rich is itself a performance
- How the two films depict how women can use their sexuality as a currency, not just necessarily for money but for respect, and power. And how can that backfire
- How sex is shot in the two films
- What makes the men in these films terrible? Who isn’t terrible?
- How the two films depict the protagonist’s search for her identity through her work/how she makes money
- How the films address (or fail to) different kinds of privilege: whiteness, heterosexuality, wealth, class
Sugar Daddy (Wendy Morgan, 2020)
Kelly McCormack, who also wrote the film, stars as Darren, a broke, experimental musician who is struggling equally with paying the rent and finding her voice as a musician — and having the time and energy to do so. When Darren is suddenly fired from her catering job, she decides to look into the opportunities a sugar daddy (or several) might offer. As she goes on dates with older men, she starts to find that the upfront financial transaction is sometimes more healthy than her personal relationships with men. The film is directed by Wendy Morgan, set in Toronto, and is Canadian.
Sugar Daddy received Canadian Screen Award nominations for Editing (Christine Armstrong), Supporting Actor (Colm Feore), and Original Song (“Sugar Daddy”)
Sugar Daddy is available on VOD and streaming on Hoopla in Canada and the US
An Easy Girl (Rebecca Zlotowski, 2019)
French writer-director Rebecca Zlotowski’s fourth feature is the story of sixteen-year-old Naïma (Mina Farid), and the week she spends with her mysterious cousin, Sofia, who comes to visit. Set in Cannes just after the school year ends, Naïma is uncertain about what she wants to do with her life, and spends the film following others: first, her best friend Dodo, and then Sofia. Though just 22, Sofia has had lots of plastic surgery, and lives her life with the purpose of being looked at and admired, especially by rich men. Naïma’s mother is a maid in a fancy local hotel, and by following Sofia’s escapades with rich men Naïma gets a taste of how the other half lives.
An Easy Girl is streaming on Netflix
- Sign up for our Lockdown Film School session with Agnieszka Holland
- Read Alex’s interview with Sugar Daddy writer-actress Kelly McCormack
- Read Lena’s feature on Promising Young Woman and the incompleteness of rape-revenge films.
- Read Lena’s other New York Time reviews and features, including recent reviews of Spiral and Oxygen
- Read Milly Gribben’s review of Shiva Baby
- Episode 66: Francis Lee’s God’s Own Country & Ammonite
- Episode 73: Explorations of Rape Culture in Promising Young Woman and The Assistant
- Episode 86: Depictions of childhood sexual assault: Una & Slalom
- Episode 89: Coming of Age at Forty: Spinster and The Forty-Year-Old Version