This overlooked biopic exits theaters in a few days

On the one hand, it’s encouraging that we live in a world where a movie about polyamory, helmed by a black queer female director, not only gets made but is given a fairly wide release. On the other hand, we still live in a world where even the people who voluntarily choose to see such a film feel the need to laugh uncomfortably at inappropriate times while watching it. In Trump’s America, eh, I’ll take it as a victory.

Written and directed by Angela Robinson, Professor Marston and the Wonder Women is based on the true story of Wonder Woman creator William Moulton Marston (Luke Evans), and portrays how the most famous female comic book character of all time is an amalgam of his psychological theories and his relationship with his wife, Elizabeth Holloway Marston (Rebecca Hall), and their girlfriend* Olive Byrne (Bella Heathcote). Witty, sweet, and sensual, this biopic* takes a loving look at a trio navigating an unconventional relationship and the issues that come with it.

(*It should be noted here that the Marston family apparently categorizes Robinson’s take on the trio’s relationship as pure fiction, and Robinson herself admits to taking license in her interpretation.)

In the end, the truth of the story is less important than the story itself. Robinson cares for these characters, and she makes you care for them too. Despite their real struggles — Elizabeth’s frustration at her career being stymied due to her gender, their own insecurities, the risks of being “outed” — these three are having fun, and you can’t help but root for them.

And after all, Wonder Woman herself is a legend; is it any wonder Robinson thought she deserved a legendary origin story? If Professor Marston isn’t the “true story” of her creation, it seems like it should be — a distillation of the best parts of three people, and an embodiment of their love for each other.

So I can’t begrudge my fellow theatergoers their occasional and mostly unwarranted titters. (Granted, there were a few times when was happening on screen was a little bit too on the nose, so it’s possible some of the laughter could legitimately have been people thinking that what was happening was silly. And of course, there were legitimately funny scenes that merited laughs.) I give them full credit for turning up — perhaps the ideas contained in the film were outside their comfort zone, but they took a chance and came anyway (unlike most of America, apparently — I don’t know how a movie about the character behind the hottest box office draw of the summer could tank quite so badly [poor marketing? objection to the subject matter? something else entirely?]).

As far as I can tell, this coming Thursday, October 26, 2017 is your last chance to see Professor Marston in theaters (in Austin, at least), so don’t miss your chance to vote with your dollars and your butts in the seats to support thoughtful, affirmative filmmaking.

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