John Lyttle on film

Female buddy-buddy movies - what a relief. No car chases, no heads being blown off in slow motion, no machine-tooled one-liners that are meant as a hymn to the hero's masculinity but instead highlight his insecurity. Not that female buddy-buddy movies can't be about girls with guns. Thelma and Louise, the classic that revived the genre once known - and derided - as the "women's picture", starred two pistol-packin' mamas, with a much- praised guest appearance by a would-be rapist's corpse. But what the women's picture invariably has is what most action flicks and all summer blockbusters studiously avoid: a sense of life lived, choices made, ordinary detail, the psychological interior. You know, the girlie show...

Boys' Own courts bang-bang, fantasy, scale: the power of the (inflated) image. It's only verbal - about communication, about feeling - when it has to be, and then tersely ("Adrian! Adrian!") or with a heavy Austrian accent ("I'll be back"). Women's pictures rattle on and run deep, not because of some sort of genetic disposition, but because it's good to talk. It's also brave: so many subjects are currently thought sentimental, or off-limits, and there's always going to be some asshole ready to make a smart remark about gabby bitches chewing the fat. Yet it's the words that give Now and Then, How to Make an American Quilt and, now, Moonlight and Valentino (below), their glow. We speak of that increasingly rare sensation of actually knowing, and caring about, a character, regardless of gender. Which is not to suggest that emotions are women's work - only that they are not frightened of feeling, that alien monster from hell that remains men's greatest foe, impervious to bomb, bullet and the most prefabricated, audience- tested joke.

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