I just got back from an academic conference on popular romance studies. It’s a fairly new discipline, which is still fighting against the stigma of assumptions made about the genre as a whole (i.e., that it is “trash,” “women’s pornography,” etc.). So, I’m pretty well sensitized right now to the assumptions made by scholars, critics, and pretty much everybody about popular romance (not only novels, but “chick flicks” too). Most of these assumptions tar an entire genre with the same broad brush, despite the vastly different products contained within. (Jane Austen? Yeah, she was popular romance…)
So when I read this review of a film called “Martha Marcy May Marlene,” one thing sort of leaped out at me:
Enjoying the film will depend on how one reacts to the very independent film style ending Martha Marcy May Marlene provides. For some it will be thoughtful, naturalistic and provoking, while for others it will be a ruse, a cop-out, feeling like a script that has no end (Emphasis mine).
What. The. Hell.
A “very independent film style ending”? Did he actually just say that? Yep, he did. I could act like I had no clue what Doc Rotten was talking about, but instead I’ll just be a little insulted on behalf of every independent film out there.
But it did get me thinking–is there a pervasive stereotype for independent films (this article makes me think ‘yes’)? Which begs a couple more questions:
- Is there the same expectation of “Art” from a film made for $1 million, $100,000, and $10,000? If not, then why not?
- If an indie film doesn’t come through on the “style” expected, does that hurt its chances to gain standard distribution?
- Conversely, does throwing a weird, ambiguous ending onto a project make it destined for success? Because while that would be just lame, I kind of think that maybe that is the case…
As always, I have raised more questions that I have no answers for. But I think these might be good ones to ponder, if one is planning a project.