Review by J.T. Johnson
DIRECTOR: Angela Robinson
CINEMATOGRAPHY: Bryce Fortner
WRITER: Angela Robinson
MUSIC: Tom Howe
The fact that “Professor Marston and the Wonder Women” came out in the same year as the film “Wonder Woman” is actually a coincidence. Writer and director Angela Robinson had been developing the story for over eight years and also had a tough time finding a distributor for the film as well. I’m personally glad that she did get the film made and released, because it’s a hell of a biographical drama.
Professor William Moulton Marston (Luke Evans) is the creator of Wonder Woman, the most famous female comic book superhero even to this day. What was not known until years later is that Marston’s creation was inspired by two women in his life. The comic book was also a medium that Marston used to subtly talk about his unconventional views towards sexual relationships between men and women.
While he was still a professor, Marston and his wife Elizabeth (Rebecca Hall) were trying to perfect what would later be developed into the lie detector tests that we still use to this day. Also, Marston was trying to explore the nature of human relationships and this is when he meets Olive Byrne (Bella Heathcote), a student that becomes William and Elizabeth’s assistant.
Soon, the three learn that they love each other in a world where that kind of relationship is outlawed. They develop a means to live together and explore new forms of sexuality that will inspire the future comic book. In reality, the creation of the comic book is secondary to the love story at the center of it all.
Evans is good as William, a man that doesn’t mind conducting his research in a world that would rather he shut the hell up about such things. Despite Evans’ decent performance, though, it is Hall and Heathcote that give the show stealing performances as Elizabeth and Olive. Their love story is just as important as anything else found in the movie and I found that it was the story I wanted to see work most of all.
Beyond the love story, there is the fact that the film questions what exactly is normal in the first place. We are taught in society (even to this day) that we will one day find someone else to love and that’s it. The truth is that we are all capable of loving multiple people, but once we find “the one”, we tend to ignore any other feelings of love as do Elizabeth and Olive at different points in the movie.
Also, the film definitely explores William’s very unorthodox views on sexuality, proving that William was probably born born a couple of decades too early. Still, the movie does avoid getting too high on a soap box in this regard. You may not agree with everything that William believes in when it comes to sex, but that’s okay as the film merely asks you to have an open mind and maybe accept the possibility that what you accept may not be the only way for everyone else.
Sadly, the message of the film about free love and exploration of that love is still as relevant as ever in today’s world. We’re getting better at being more open minded, but we are still not completely liberated with our views on love and even sex itself. Thankfully, this film reminds us that it is okay to explore these topics as it also gives us one hell of a love story.