As a simple film viewer (uncultured swine — just kidding), I typically shy away from films that are personally difficult to understand, i.e. films that are not in the realm of mainstream American and Philippine cinema. European Film, as an elective, kind of made me nervous because I consider it to be uncharted territory. The anxiety heightened when we watched the first European film for class — A Woman Is a Woman. As I was watching the film, I had no idea what was going on. There was always a frozen couple by the stairs of the main character’s apartment, Emile was always biking around inside their home for no reason whatsoever, and so on. What made me all the more confused was that it was introduced to the class as a musical. It was not the usual musical I was expecting; it was no High School Musical. I started to wonder if my idea of what a musical is was wrong all along, or if Europeans are just crazy. A part of me thinks it’s the latter.
Admittedly, I really had a difficult time grasping the film in itself. Amazingly enough, there was a silver lining — something I perfectly understood. I’m aware that it might not even be an angle the filmmakers wanted their audiences to focus on, but I wanted to shed a light on it despite the weird music and the unusual dialogue. Angela and Emile’s relationship was — as the typical millennial would describe it — toxic. Whenever I watch films with any type of romance, I always find myself pointing out whether a relationship is healthy or not, and in this film’s case, it is obviously unhealthy. The main conflict on the film centered around Angela’s desire for a baby and Emile’s hesitance towards what she wanted. Instead of being like mature adults by finding a way to compromise, Angela tries to get Emile jealous just to get him to agree with her, and Emile challenges her to do it throughout the entirety of the film. Compromise and communication are key ingredients to a healthy relationship, which Angela and Emile apparently did not understand fully. It was always about what the individual personally wanted, no matter what the other party said. If it were a reality, they would never resolve the issue, even though they seemed to have made up in the end. Since Angela really wanted it, she would probably push for it again in a day or two. Maybe.
With the toxicity of their relationship in mind, a question that bothered me while I was watching the film was this: is the movie sexist towards women? I mean, the title is “A Woman Is a Woman”, and the woman in the film is a crazy, self-obsessed girlfriend who is focused on getting what she wants even though she is told no. Did the title itself imply a “girls will be girls” notion where women are always spoiled and selfish? Or am I reading into it too much?
Perhaps the film’s narrative voice is actually a positive message, but personally, my interpretation was the total opposite. I guess that is the beauty of art — it is always open to interpretation.