Yes, spoilers. (We aren’t even going to talk about the science, because science isn’t why you’re going to see this film. You are probably going to see ScarJo kick butt. ScarJo’s performance is strong, without question–but we’re going to talk about, oh em gee, the female character.)
When I got my first bra, I remember my mom telling me that one didn’t wear a black bra under a white shirt–that it wasn’t done, because everyone would be able to see your business and no one needed to see your business. And then Madonna happened, but.
In LUCY, we seemingly know more about Lucy’s underwear than we do Lucy, and this didn’t make for an enjoyable film. If you want to see ScarJo kick a bunch of butt and do strange things with her eyes and hands, you’ll probably be happy. But if you’re looking for any kind of a character arc from a “strong female character,” you’ll be disappointed.
Lucy is strong, and female, but she’s got no character.
When the film opens, we meet Lucy, who is little more than a party girl in super-bad clothing. She’s hooked up with Doofus Richard, who suddenly needs her to Do A Thing for him.
Lucy says no. Lucy says no a lot and strenuously. And Doofus Richard? Like a man who has Important Man Needs That He Cannot Fully Explain, Doofus Richard disregards every single no and does what he wants anyhow. He handcuffs a briefcase to Lucy and sends her into An Extremely Bad Situation.
Against her will.
And the movie proceeds to do Many Bad Things against her will. She is beaten, threatened, nearly raped, jailed, and made into a drug mule (which involves invasive surgery) entirely against her will.
Ohbut! She turns into a BAD-ASS, you say.
Because trauma to Our Heroine = bad-assery, and that’s okay, right?
Ohbut! Lucy turns into something more bad-ass than Siri, so that’s okay!
No, it’s not.
Ohbut! Lucy visits the DINOSAURS. Bad-ass!
Yeah, that happened. It was a thing.
There is nothing new or revolutionary about LUCY. It does to heroines what has been done for a long, long time: it breaks her apart against her will to make her into something presumably “better.”
I wish we had known Lucy before her transformation–if this is supposed to be about losing one’s humanity and becoming something Other, it fails. I wish we knew something about her life beyond her questionable boyfriends and bad clothing. We briefly meet her roommate, but don’t even know why Lucy is in Taipei. We know Lucy has a mom, knows she loves her mom, and maybe that is supposed to be enough, tears shed as she rambles a confession that perplexes her mom.
But for this viewer it wasn’t.