Documentary reports on 'Beautiful' femininism

Posted3/12/2015 5:45 AM

Mini-review: 'She's Beautiful When She's Angry'

Director Mary Dore isn't much of a dramatic storyteller in her documentary "She's Beautiful When She's Angry," but she presents a straightforward report on the rise of American feminism so passionately that it achieves a sense of giddy triumph.


Dore's chronicle of the U.S. women's liberation movement is another one of those docs that should be mandatory viewing for every American citizen, both girls and boys who should know where men's and women's political relationships now are, and how they got there.

The doc features talking heads belonging to key figures in the women's lib movement -- among them Rita Mae Brown, Gloria Steinem, Susan Brownmiller, Susan Griffin, Karla Jay and Kate Millett -- plus lots of information-packed archival footage to tell an American story of citizens standing up for not only their rights, but for what's right.

Dore frames the struggle for women's rights in the 1960s and 1970s with clear-eyed objectivity, pointing out the shortcomings and disappointments of feminism even as it forged a historic path toward equality in both the home and the workplace.

"She's Beautiful" shows us the now jaw-dropping chauvinism of American media from 45 years ago, and how the women's lib movement began, in the simplest terms, when women began to talk to each other and realized they weren't alone in their feelings of being trapped, unhappy, unappreciated and less equal to their male counterparts.

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The movie comes pumped with humor, horror (FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover declaring the National Organization for Women as a terrorist organization?) and humanity at both its best and not-so-good levels.

More than an honest work of journalism, this cautionary doc hears thunder in the distance, the legal storm threatening to rescind the progress made by a generation of women of all colors who fought and sacrificed for the freedoms women -- including my two daughters -- experience today.

"She's Beautful When She's Angry" opens at the Music Box Theatre in Chicago. Not rated, but contains adult language and sexual subject matter. 87 minutes. ★ ★ ★

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