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[SXSW Review] ‘M.F.A.’ Empowers and Enlightens

Social issues have always been entwined in horror all the way back from Metropolis to Night of the Living Dead and most recently Get Out. We talk about it a lot here on BD because we think it’s an important ingredient in creating the perfect genre film.

One of the most important films of 2016 was Paul Verhoeven’s Elle, which landed Isabelle Huppert an Oscar nomination for “Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role”. She starred as a rape victim who, instead of letting the assailant’s attack destroy her life, takes control of it.

Natalia Leite‘s M.F.A., penned by Leah McKendrick, is Elle “light”, a micro-indie version of the aforementioned dramatic thriller. Rising star Francesca Eastwood (daughter of Clint Eastwood and Frances Fisher) plays an art student who is raped by a classmate. After confronting and accidentally killing her attacker, she becomes a vigilante, setting out to avenge college girls whose attackers walked free.

While M.F.A. fights through budget restraints (it really does look and feel cheap), McKendrick pens a thoroughly engaging and important story that may be too “on the nose” for some. The film tackles serious social issues surrounding both rape victims and their assaulters. There’s heavy exposition that will come off “preachy” to the sensitive, but the screenplay actually beautifully juxtaposes Eastwood’s character, Noelle. M.F.A. is about driving home perspective, and helping the viewer both experience and understand what it’s like to be a victim of rape (not that one could ever truly understand what it’s like to go through such a horrific experience).

Leite doesn’t hold back, either, punishing the viewer with visceral and intense rape sequences in an effort to drive home her point. Yes, M.F.A is a movie/entertainment, but rape isn’t fun, funny, or sexy, and Leite isn’t going to tone down the emotional potency of her commentary for the sake of Hollywood or film distribution. She forces her viewers to sink in the horrors that Noelle and others experience.

In fact, the most impressive feat is that both Leite and McKendrick even make a point about being vigilant (or a vigilante), taking the slasher element of the film and filling it with useful commentary. M.F.A should leave you feeling angry; it should also provide an important emotional and conversational spark that hopefully will enlighten the insensitive.

Unlike many of this years SXSW titles, M.F.A. is intensely engaging, thought-provoking, and also mesmerizing. Aided by Eastwood’s dynamic performance (her emotional range is uncanny), M.F.A is an empowering film that’s just as enlightening.

[SXSW 2017] Keep up with all of the news and reviews here!


21 Comments
  • Golic

    So sick of the word “empowers”

    • Tiger Quinn

      People will complain about literally anything.

      • ScriptGiverrrr

        imagine being so sad that you’re threatened by empowerment.

        • Areisius

          Dude…shut up!

          • ScriptGiverrrr

            No.

    • Ocelot006 .

      Remember kids, you can’t become empowered unless you are a victim. Kids, you must all become victims or else what are you doing with your life?

      • ScriptGiverrrr

        You’re such a prick ALL THE TIME.

        • Ocelot006 .

          I’m sorry if the concept of ‘celebration of defeat equals victory’ is lost on me.

          • ScriptGiverrrr

            That’s just a construct you created in your head because you’re a constant asshole.

          • Ocelot006 .

            I’m pretty sure I wasn’t the one who invented victim culture.

          • ScriptGiverrrr

            Clearly you have no idea what empowerment means, but you don’t have time to look it up, you’re too busy being pissed off all the time. Pathetic wee man.

          • Ocelot006 .

            I’m pretty sure empowerment doesn’t involve reminding everyone everyday that you’ve been raped or cut yourself and because of that you can’t understand blah blah blah. Attempting to get others pity is not being empowered.

          • ScriptGiverrrr

            Speaking out as a survivor is empowering. Taking your life back is empowering. You see it as pity because you’re a pathetic little twat. Every rage against women comment you post is probably your revenge on some girl who ignored you in high school. That’all do pig, that’ll do.

          • Ocelot006 .

            Being a fat fuck that gets a heart attack and then decides to eat healthy and go to the gym is empowering. Not being a fat fuck that has a heart attack and then gets a survivor tattoo over his heart and then let’s everyone know he had a heart attack when they’re not showering with him lollipops and gumdrops.

          • ScriptGiverrrr

            The fact that you think THAT compares at all to surviving rape shows everything about your pathetic ass. Go fuck yourself.

          • Ocelot006 .

            Yeah. A heart attack that almost resulted in death. No comparison. Which brings us to the other bullshit. People trying to be the bigger victim. “Oh I was raped.” “Yeah well I was gang raped. I win.”

            Still the same principal of being a victim. You’re a victim. How are you going to empower yourself moving forward?

          • ScriptGiverrrr

            Yes, one’s own choices and/or genetics resulting in a heart attack is not comparable to someone forcing themselves INSIDE another being who then has to live with the trauma forced upon them by an evil fuckwatt such as yourself.

            I fear for women that come in contact with you. Enjoy your next reply, I won’t be commenting any further. You’re scum. Enjoy your hellish existence you fat cow.

          • Ocelot006 .

            Uh oh. We got a victim blamer on our hands. “One’s own choices”? Oh boy. How insensitive of you.

          • ScriptGiverrrr

            Also, according to your words. being raped is not being victorious? THATS how you view such a vile, violent, horrific crime? I was trying to be civil before but seriously fuck you dude, you pathetic, crusty, bachned, angry blob.

    • ScriptGiverrrr

      Because it threatens you?

  • Hanno

    Skulls?

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