Apr 1, 2009

Who Does She Think She Is? (2008): D

At twenty minutes, Who Does She Think She Is? might have stood as a documentary short of passing interest, but at feature length it becomes a trifle whose redundancies take on heights equal to more than the sum of its parts. Following a handful of independent female artists as they struggle to fulfill their duties to both themselves (as creators) and others (as mothers, wives, etc.), the film rightfully acknowledges the marginalization of the feminine voice in modern society as an injustice to the world at large, one reinforced in social paradigms and accepted, often without question, as the way things are. In its best sequences, the film compares the well-being of women to overall quality of life (here, the correlation proves stronger than that between happiness and economically dependent factors) and addresses the more powerful role occupied by women in the world prior to the rise of Western society. Such moments are fleeting, however, amidst a bulk that focuses on the personal struggles of a few individuals in a scant, superficial manner that amounts to lip-service of the monotonous and unenlightening kind, playing out more like show-and-tell reality TV voyeurism than investigative journalism. Here, the film confuses breadth with depth; as it examines none of these women deeply or substantially enough to differentiate them from one another (their varying backgrounds stand as mere labels rather than elements affecting personalities and life choices), their inclusion feels more like obligatory time-filler than it does a necessary step in probing scrutiny. One gets the sense that these filmmakers have more to say on the matter than is contained in the travel brochure-like simplicity that made its way onto the screen, and so Who Does She Think She Is? ultimately feels like little more than one overly drawn-out act of throat-clearing.

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