- Release: 1998
- Publisher: U of Minnesota Press
- Price: FREE
- File: PDF, 275 page
- ISBN: 0816631778
From Desperately Seeking Susan, Steel Magnolias, and Thelma & Louise to Desert Hearts, Girl Friends, and Passion Fish, mainstream cinema has seen a wave of films focusing on friendships between women. In tire Company of Women is the first critical work to investigate the recent resurgence of this variety of the "woman's film". Examining the female friendship film since the 1970s and setting it against older films of the 1930s and 1940s, such as Mildred Pierce and Stella Dallas, Karen Hollinger studies the character of the films themselves and how they speak to female viewers. She argues that while many of these films initially seem to affirm the power of female friendship and reject traditional images of women, most of them ultimately fall back on conventional feminine roles. Hollinger argues that the female friendship film, by attempting to assimilate into the mainstream, uses ideas from the women's movement, like female autonomy and sisterhood, that are particularly susceptible to compromise. It is this blend of empowering and conservative elements that makes the female friendship film neither a true challenge to the status quo nor a mere confirmation of dominant ideology but rather a multifaceted cinematic form that reflects both of these strains. Hollinger considers all of the major issues in feminist film criticism -- from audience reception to the identification with characters, from sexuality to racial identity. Engaging and provocative, In the Company of Women is an entertaining and enlightening account of one of contemporary cinema's most vital genres.