As was the case in June, July offers lean pickings as far as major women-centric releases are concerned. Tammy, co-written and produced by Melissa McCarthy, whose star has been on the ascent since Bridesmaids, is one of the biggest. After Thelma and Louise reunited to the delight of the twittersphere last week, the film also sees Susan Sarandon return to the road movie in the role of the protagonist’s grandmother. She and McCarthy promise to make a great comedy odd couple.
Tammy is not the only film named after its female protagonist to hit our screens in July, however, with Universal hoping Scarlett Johansson will prove a big box-office draw in Luc Besson’s Lucy later in the month. Johansson plays a woman endowed with superhuman intelligence and general badassery after a drug deal gone wrong in the latest sci-fi action-thriller from the French director.
As ever, the number of women behind the camera on major releases is depressingly low, although July does see Trish Sie become the second woman to direct an installment of the Step Up dance-movie series, with the release of Step Up: All In.
There are a number of women-directed features opening on the arthouse and indie circuit, however. Evelyn Purcell’s Heatstroke and Louise Archambault’s Gabrielle are set for release on July 4th, and at the end of the month two more women-directed movies with female-centric narratives arrive in the shape of Italian director Maria Sole Tognazzi’s A Five Star Life and Naomi Foner’s directorial debut Very Good Girls, starring Dakota Fanning and Elizabeth Olsen, which Foner also wrote. Both films deal with frienship. A Five Star Life centers on a woman who wants to be there for her (male) expecting friend, while Very Good Girls follows two BFFs as they flirt, then make out, with the same boy.
Also look out for Land Ho! — a comedy about two elderly ex-brothers-in-law on a road trip through the picturesque landscape of Iceland, which has proved a hit with the critics and was both co-written and co-directed by Martha Stephens, an indie filmmaker on the rise.
Here are the July films written, directed, and/or about women. All descriptions are from press materials.
Tammy — Co-Written by Melissa McCarthy
Tammy (Melissa McCarthy) is having a bad day. She’s totaled her clunker car, gotten fired from her thankless job at a greasy burger joint and, instead of finding comfort at home, finds her husband getting comfortable with the neighbor in her own house. It’s time to take her boom box and book it. The bad news is she’s broke and without wheels. The worse news is her grandma, Pearl (Susan Sarandon), is her only option–with a car, cash, and an itch to see Niagara Falls. Not exactly the escape Tammy had in mind. But on the road, with grandma riding shot gun, it may be just what Tammy needs.
Gabrielle — Written and Directed by Louise Archambault
Gabrielle (Gabrielle Marion-Rivard) is a 22-year-old woman with Williams syndrome, a genetic disorder that often slows cognitive skills while increasing sociability and musical talent. She sings in a Montreal choir with other disabled adults, where she meets and falls in love with the dashingly handsome Martin (Alexandre Landry). The bliss of first love is interrupted, however, by Martin’s interfering mother (Marie Gignac), who worries that special needs individuals aren’t sufficiently fit for romantic relationships. What emerges in Louise Archambault’s sweet, unassuming and confidently directed film is a portrait of a young woman fighting, in her own way, for acceptance and independence, and for her right to experience life’s highs and lows–with joy, pain, confusion and eventual understanding.
Heatstroke — Directed by Evelyn Maude Purcell; Co-Written by Anne Brooksbank and Evelyn Maude Purcell
A female aid worker (Svetlana Metkina) is put to the ultimate test of survival when her boyfriend (Stephen Dorff) is murdered on a research trip in the desolate African desert, and she is tasked with traversing the harsh terrain in order to protect his willful teenage daughter (Maisie Williams) and evade his killers.
Land Ho! — Co-Written and Co-Directed by Martha Stephens
A pair of 60-something ex-brothers-in-law (Paul Eenhoorn and Earl Lynn Nelson) set off on a road trip through Iceland, hoping to reclaim their youth. Their picaresque adventures, from trendy Reykjavík to rugged outback, are a throwback to classic bawdy road comedies as well as a candid exploration of aging, loneliness, and friendship.
A Five Star Life — Directed by Maria Sole Tognazzi; Co-Written by Francesca Marciano and Maria Sole Tognazzi
Irene (Margherita Buy, The Red and the Blue) spends her glamorous life traveling around the world to the best hotels, methodically judging their standards in every fastidious respect. Her elaborate reports detail and rate everything from the service, to the temperature of the soup, to the clarity of the wine glasses. However, she remains content and supremely unaware of the glaring imperfections in her own life, or lack of personal life. When her long-standing friend Andrea (Stefano Accorsi) announces that he has unexpectedly made his latest one-night-stand pregnant, Irene’s complacency is shattered. To further add insult to injury, she learns her sister Silvia (Fabrizia Sacchi) is experiencing serious marital difficulties. In addition, Irene is overloaded with work and when on a stop-over in Morocco a hopeful would-be romance is crushed when she learns that the suitor is, in fact, already taken. Irene is challenged to balance her work and personal life, and deal with the more conventional expectations of society.
Very Good Girls — Written and Directed by Naomi Foner
Best friends Lily (Dakota Fanning) and Gerry (Elizabeth Olsen), home for one last New York summer, make a pact to lose their virginity before leaving for college. But when they both fall for the same handsome artist (Boyd Holbrook) and Lily starts seeing him in secret, a lifelong friendship is tested. With Demi Moore, Richard Dreyfuss, Ellen Barkin, Peter Sarsgaard, and Clark Gregg, and featuring new music by Rilo Kiley’s Jenny Lewis.
From La Femme Nikita and The Professional to The Fifth Element, writer/director Luc Besson has created some of the toughest, most memorable female action heroes in cinematic history. Now, Besson directs Scarlett Johansson in Lucy, an action-thriller that tracks a woman accidentally caught in a dark deal who turns the tables on her captors and transforms into a merciless warrior evolved beyond human logic.
Step Up: All In — Directed by Trish Sie
In the next exciting chapter of the international phenomenon Step Up, all-stars from previous installments come together in glittering Las Vegas, battling for a victory that could define their dreams and their careers.
When Jenny (Anna Kendrick), a hard partying 20-something moves in with Kelly (Melanie Lynskey), a budding novelist, her film director husband (Joe Swanberg) and their two-year-old son after a break up, the family’s idyllic life is shaken. Jenny begins a rocky relationship with their baby sitter-cum-pot dealer (Mark Webber), and she and a friend, Carson (Lena Dunham), bring Kelly to the realization that an evolution in her life, career and relationship is necessary for her happiness.