Rebellious behavior appears to be the common thread among films portraying women who live in a stifling environment that shuns creativity or nontraditional interests. The main characters in such movies face many troubles, from ridicule to harsh punishments at the hands of loved ones or local officials. These ladies often resort to leading secret lives or performing dishonest acts while trying to reach their full potential.
In the 2009 drama “My Tehran for Sale,” Marzieh Vafamehr plays an actress of the same name who secretly pursues forms of artistic expression after Iranian authorities ban her from working in theater. Ostracized by her family due to the political and cultural landscape of their surroundings, Vafamehr plans to move to Australia in hopes of gaining creative freedom.
The challenges this actress faces in “My Tehran for Sale” and her willingness to try to overcome them speaks to a firmly held conviction of fighting for her passion no matter the cost. Marzieh is in a long line of female movie characters who challenge the limitations society’s traditional values have placed on them regarding their future, regardless of whether those restrictions are within the field of the arts or sports.
In the 2002 comedy “Bend It Like Beckham,” Parminder Nagra plays a high school senior named Jess, whose Panjabi Sikh parents forbid her to play soccer despite her passion and talent for the sport. Jess still joins a local soccer team by lying to the coach about having her parents’ support, later earning a college scholarship for her skills on the playing field. Jess, however, keeps this scholarship a secret from her parents, who asks her to behave like a proper woman — learning to cook traditional Indian food instead of kicking a ball around.
Much like Jess’s secret, rebellious, dishonest actions in “Bend It Like Beckham,” women in film who exhibit similar behavior have no intention of disappointing authority figures but feel they have no other choice when pursuing their goals.
In the 1992 comedy “Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit,” Lauryn Hill plays a Catholic school student named Rita who is one of the lead singers of her school’s choir, where she displays unbelievably strong vocal talent. Rita’s strict mother, Florence, however, forbids her from accompanying fellow students to a local state choir contest because Florence does not think music is a realistic career choice.
Rita joins her school choir at the championship anyway after committing forgery on the parental consent form. While Rita knows these actions are disobedient and dishonest, she believes they are justified in trying to follow her dreams.
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