Professor Marston and the Wonder Women is a biographical drama film about American psychologist William Moulton Marston, who created the fictional character Wonder Woman. The film, directed and written by Angela Robinson and stars Luke Evans, Rebecca Hall, and Bella Heathcote.
The Story/The Direction:
The film follows William Marston (Evans), a psychologist and university professor, who invented the lie detector and created the Wonder Woman character in 1941. He is married to Elizabeth (Hall), a brilliant psychologist who wants is overtly frustrated at the lack of opportunity available to her in the '20s. They have a romantic partnership with their research assistant Olive Byrne (Heathcote), who is one of Marston's inspirations for Wonder Woman. This film has been marketed as a true story however it is not. The characters are real, however, it has been reported that they were misinterpretations of them to tell the story that Robinson wanted. She did not consult the Marston family and this film is her interpretation of their lives. In this film, Elizabeth and Olive are shown to have a relationship between themselves outside of Marston, however, the family states that this was not the case as they were "sisters, not lovers."
Having said that, this film is still enjoyable as a partially fictional biographical piece. Robinson is able to take the typical historic biopic format and make it interesting because of its fleshed out characters. She is able to tell this relationship story that will have you invested even if you're not in the same mindset when it comes to relationships. Whether 100% accurate or not, this romance is 100% believable due to Robinson's wonderful script.
This film has three leads playing characters that are fully developed. Evans was able to play Marston with charm, charisma and is clearly having fun with every role that he takes. He may be the opposite of what someone would imagine a Harvard professor to be and his accent was not that of Massachusetts but his portrayal made the character fantastic to follow. His career is a fairly fascinating one as he and Elizabeth were able to create the first lie detector but his relationship with the two women in his life was the most interesting part. Olive was played decently by Heathcote as she provides an innocence and provides the viewpoint of the majority of the audience. The standout, however, was Hall as Elizabeth. Her character was a no-nonsense type and was equal to that of Marston, academically and also intelligently. She is blunt and tells things how they are. Her character progresses throughout the film and comes to a complete close at the end. Her chemistry with Evans and Heathcote was on point and her acting is nomination worthy. She is the best-acted character among the three in this relationship. Robinson celebrates their relationship and shows how it evolves throughout the film and how it relates to the creation of Wonder Woman.
Aside from the characters, this film is fairly ordinary. It follows every cliche plot point of a biopic would, for example, Robinson's use of the back-and-forth narrative structure to tell the story. This narrative format is also sort of messy as the lead up to the "present" event and the story past it is sort of rushed. Also as said earlier, this film is not a true story as marketed. While usually not a flaw to biopics as there is wiggle room for artistic license, normally filmmakers would contact the family to ensure the best possible product. This is a flaw because going into this film, I was under the impression this was the true story behind it. According to the granddaughter of Marston, "the origin of the Wonder Woman comic is wrong." In the film, Marston brings the idea to Charlie Gaines (Oliver Platt), the publisher of DC Comics in the 1930s and 40s, after Elizabeth said no would buy it. When in reality, Gaines suggested that Marston write a comic and when he discussed with Elizabeth, she said: "to go ahead and do it, but that it had to be a woman." If a film is advertised about a creation of a character and then that creation process is messed up, that is a big flaw. If a filmmaker had consulted the family and it was up in the air, then it wouldn't be but because no attempt was made, this lessens the movie.
It is a shame that this film was not created as a representation approved by the living Marston family. Otherwise, this film is great and is able to go past its biopic cliches with its brilliant performances by its starring actors. Evans, Hall, and Heathcote. All are able to give well developed and extremely different on-screen presences that complement each other superbly, especially Hall. This good film is definitely worth a viewing to enjoy the acting and the story just remember the story is not correct.
Rating: 3.5/5.0 bowties
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