Professor Marston and the Wonder Women: LFF Film Review

With quite a lot of films on the LFF schedule, you know from word of mouth beforehand whether it’s supposed to be good, but there are a small few that take you completely by surprise. Professor Marston and the Wonder Women comes under the latter. I had no idea what to expect and I came away so impressed.

Luke Evans is said professor, who teaches psychology at Harvard’s female equivalent Radcliffe, with his wife Elizabeth (Rebecca Hall), in the 1920s. They take on student Olive (Bella Heathcote) as a research assistant, helping them develop the lie detector. Along the way, they all fall in love, something which gets them kicked out of college and ruins their careers, but the revelation that Olive is pregnant forces them to create a new kind of family unit.

I don’t think I’ve seen a polyamorous relationship depicted onscreen in the same way as a regular love story. Those three genuinely loved each other and it was told very sensitively. On film, there is usually an imbalance and it doesn’t last, so this is a very refreshing tale. It was also incredibly moving and I was invested in their relationship, particularly the love between Olive and Elizabeth, which felt deeper.

To be honest, I had no clue about the origins of Wonder Woman so this is fascinating. Marston’s personal life wasn’t that well known because it was illegal and they tried to keep it hidden. I love when extraordinary stories such as these make it onscreen. I must admit I was surprised by the erotic nature of movie, not only the three-way sex but their interest in bondage and dominance and submission. It is nothing like Fifty Shades though, it is tender and not shown in a dirty way, just showing their kinky ways as normal.

Evans was a great choice but Hall and Heathcote were definitely the ones that made the film moving and emotionally resonant. I definitely shed a few tears, especially reading the text at the end (which I won’t spoil).

Wonder Woman fans may be disappointed that the comic isn’t the main focus. Scenes of Marston defending it to a child safety watchdog (led by Connie Britton) are interpersed with their main love story, although you see what moments in his life helped inspire the stories and characters and see him pitching it to publishers.

The title is quite deceptive as it doesn’t make you think it’s going to be a love story, but it is, and a poignant and unusual one at that. If you want something moving, sexy, and unexpected, Professor Marston is the film for you.

Screening as part of the 61st BFI London Film Festival. In cinemas 10th November. 

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  1. […] I had no idea what to expect from Professor Marston and the Wonder Women when I saw it at the London Film Festival and I came away so impressed that it ended up in my top ten list. […]

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