199. Professor Marston and the Wonder Women

★★

Even though it’s considered much more naughty, a menage-a-trois is much easier to depict on film than a full-blown polyamorous relationship. Not only do you have to make an audience feel invested in a romantic relationship, but you have to make them feel invested in essentially three different relationships: person A and person B, person B and person C, and person A and person C. I

Professor Marston and the Wonder Women captures its A and B well, which is Professor Marston, played by Luke Evans, and his wife Elizabeth, played by Rebecca Hall. It also captures its B and C well, Elizabeth and Olive, a curious and determined TA played by Bella Heathcote. But there’s little-to-no on-screen spark between the professor and his submissive muse, making this real-life story about the unconventional, Dom/Sub relationship that sparked the creation of Wonder Woman comics much less captivating than it could be.

You can’t fault writer and director Angela Robinson too much for this lack of spark, as she does bring out some great moments from her actors, particularly in the early stages of the film. But as we prod along, things become less-and-less interesting, a lack of detail and imagination from behind the camera. The scenes of Marston actually trying to pitch or write Wonder Woman, or when the three lovers discover bondage and kink, don’t have the impact they should.  The film displays aging and the passage of time quite poorly, with Olive suddenly having full-grown sons despite all of the adults looking the exact same at the beginning of the film. At one point, Professor Marston says he has nearly 25 years of experience in his field, which feels like a lie, since it felt like just 20 minutes ago in the film he was starting his career.

If there’s one saving grace of the film, its accurately depicting the conflict and oppression that the characters face in wake of their unconventional romance. We see and feel just how harrowing it must be to live in a world that shuns you for who, or whom, you love, and the weight of that burden reflects in the eyes of each of the primary actors. But those moments are few and far between, resonating less and less as the pages of this faulty film continue to turn.

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