A serious, if not particularly powerful, drama Women are losers gives Lorenza Izzo the chance to flex her acting muscles, but otherwise this feminist story of breaking the glass ceiling is hampered by a production that is both overly ambitious and nowhere near ambitious enough. More on that later.
Written and directed by Lissette Filiciano, the film entitled “Grammatically Scarred” is inspired by a song of the same name by Janice Joplin, which, however, lacks the raw, kinetic energy of the singer and the song. Set in the 1960s, the film follows Celina (Izzo) from her pregnancy in high school to her challenge to face the odds and become a successful business woman and homeowner. Filiciano isn’t afraid to be unconventional at times, mostly by allowing her characters to break the fourth wall to properly emote their inner voice.
I can’t say I particularly enjoyed this approach, but arguably the bigger problem is that Filiciano doesn’t use it nearly enough to be effective. If speaking to the audience is going to be part of the film’s theme, stick with it. It happens inconsistently enough that it’s annoying every time. Distracting.
It also feels like a cheap way to express emotions, and expressing emotions is something that Women are losers fight with. While the core story moves enough, the entire production only votes slightly. Not only does the film not always feel like it was in the 60s – the way people talk, for example, sometimes feels too modern – but the writing and acting sometimes seem forced. It’s a strange thing to say, but every time a character cries it comes out as a fake. Forced. Insincere. Prevailed.
Despite all that, Izzo asserts herself and delivers a likeable, realized protagonist. Celina’s story is a bit too general – it’s not only inspired by Joplin’s song, but “inspired by real women” – but Filiciano clearly has a passion for the subject, and Izzo helps bring that passion to life. The movie gets better over time, with the third act being especially strong.
Women are losers has its moments, but very little of the movie, including its awkward title, completely clicks.
This film was reviewed as part of reporting for the SXSW Film Festival 2021
Rating by Erik Samdahl, unless otherwise stated.