‘The Girl and The Gun’ (Babae at Baril) which could also be explained as The Girl and The Patriarchal Power is a raw, honest, itchy, and direct portrayal of what could happen if a female is given power in a male-dominated, ignorant and violent society. Will she choose the same path as that of the rest to take revenge or will she, if not change, but at least not play her role in fostering the same violent behavior?
The story follows a young sales-girl (played by Janine Gutierrez) who is struggling with money and men in and out of her work. She’s timid, a silent victim of this male-driven society. She really wants to retaliate when she’s misspoken or misbehaved with, but cannot gather the courage to do so. She’s surrounded by these men who are constantly bullying her and exercise their power over women both physically and when not possible – verbally. The story actually picks up when she stumbled onto an old revolver lying outside her house after she’s been raped at her workplace. This is, however, not just one of those rage driven revenge tales. Suddenly the story travels decades back where you see how this old gun traveled its way to get to her in the exact hour of need.
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The movie is packed with symbolism. Starting with the gun representing the power men have. Director Rae Red doesn’t just show the dilemma the girl faces, but also elaborately explains how the gun – meaning the dominance and the violence men have over them, has traveled across time and place. The characters that had the gun previously were not necessarily related. Thereby telling you that their violent, dominant, abusive nature is not really inherited but you pick up on it willingly and conveniently, as you grow and move ahead in time.
The Girl and the Gun opens up with a song which says ‘morning or night, we went full throttle on Alcohol, gambling, coffee, women,’ which very briefly tells you about the story of the entire city. The same music is intermittently used throughout the film. Despite having few dialogues, Janine Gutierrez delivers a very transparent, brilliant performance. The camera work is exceptional and it can be understood through the very first scene seconding Laura Mulvey’s male gaze. A man’s obvious relationship to violence is clearly conveyed to the audience in a sequence that doesn’t even show it directly.
The dialogues in the first half are scars and precisely used. However, as the movie enters its second half, some of the conversations drag. The girl’s character is established within a few minutes as the film opens but there isn’t enough time given to get emotionally attached to her or to understand the sudden rage in her character. The transition between the rape victim’s trauma to a raging angry person is almost invisible. The visual clues aren’t always subtle and it could feel like spoon-feeding the audience with some obvious shots. The funky music at times takes away the gravity of the entire scene. Also, one cannot fire continuous shots using an old revolver gun without pulling the trigger every time. For the direction, which was detailed enough to accurately focus on the television scene to keep the reality check on point, missing out on such details seems a little inconsistent.
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Overall, The Girl and The Gun will keep you engaged throughout because of its symbolic nature, engaging storytelling, and good performances. The fact that the young girl remains unnamed throughout the movie representing all the victims out there makes it even more essential to be witnessed by the patriarchal world. Watch this one doing justice to Lincon’s famous saying, ‘If you want to test a man’s character, give him power’.