Star Wars: The Last Jedi should just be called “women getting sh*t done
The Last Jedi is all about the women power
Even before we knew what a porg was, Star Wars: The Last Jedi had staked its claim as one of the year’s biggest, most rabidly anticipated films. It’s finally out on Friday, December 15, which feels but a lightspeed jump away.
But as well as being a continuation of a beloved epic, The Last Jedi will have another major draw for at least one sector of the audience: More than any Star Wars film that came before, it’s about women getting shit done. Just in time to close the door on this donkey dung year, The Last Jedi scrapes under the gate to deliver what is, next to Wonder Woman, the most female-centric genre blockbuster of the year.
Daisy Ridley as Rey in Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Obviously, there’s Rey (Daisy Ridley), the scrappy orphan sent to find Luke Skywalker and persuade him to return and assist the Resistance. The Force is strong with her, as they say, and she’s also highly tenacious thanks to her scavenger’s existence on home planet Jakku. Rey’s problem isn’t her gender or a lack of purpose—thanks to Carrie Fisher’s General Leia Organa and her continuing antagonism with the increasingly powerful Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), her mission is straightforward and its connection to the greater cause clear. It’s rather her rootlessness and the huge gap where her family should be that ultimately makes her willing to take breathtaking risks, especially when others will benefit, rather than just herself.
Kelly Marie Tran as Rose Tico in Star Wars: The Last Jedi
But you don’t need a lightsaber to fight. Humble engineer Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran) will be called a hero by many, in both the Star Wars universe and in ours; it’s an apt term that nevertheless oversimplifies her guts and appeal. When we first meet her, she’s flustered from a run-in with her own hero, Finn (John Boyega), but her path is soon to merge with his. Director and writer Rian Johnson described Rose as someone who represents “the notion that anyone out there, any of us, can step up.”
When she does something, it’s because she alone decides to do it. It’s not hyperbole to say that her capacity to take the reins shows itself time and again, in quietly determined moments that contrast with, say, the flashy disobedience of Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac). That’s not to say there isn’t room for all kinds of contributions in a revolution—a secondary point of The Last Jedi is that there most certainly is—but her non–Chosen One background makes Rose’s arc one of the film’s most moving.
Laura Dern as Amilyn Holdo in Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Those who have been impatiently awaiting Space Laura Dern will soon be able to rest easy. The lavender-haired Vice Admiral Holdo possesses a gravitas easily ascribable to Dern’s poise and presence. Yet her elegant, at times unreadable leadership is a velvet glove that clothes a fist of iron. Like Dern’s Big Little Lies character, the full-throttle Renata, Holdo’s differences may set her apart at first, but the seemingly jarring fit is simply a distraction from her talents. How else do you think she became the deputy?
We knew little about Holdo apart from the much vaunted clash between her and the bombastic Poe. When audiences finally see it, the conflict will seem familiar even to those in earth-bound workplaces. While theirs is not explicitly a gendered rift—one gets the feeling Poe would fight a tub of margarine if it were in his way—the trope of a defiant man facing up to a woman with a more reserved style will hardly surprise anyone. Anyone knows it’s hard to be the new boss when you’re a woman—you have to explain and prove yourself many times over. But regardless of this and other obstacles, Holdo’s decisiveness is not in doubt; whatever the outcome of her actions, she has an unwavering commitment to the cause.
Finally, of course, there’s Leia. Child of Hollywood that she was, Carrie Fisher’s death in 2016 had many thinking about legacies, impacts, and generations; in The Last Jedi, those themes are all but baked in. At this point in the Star Wars story, one in which parents bequeath nothing less than the consequences of their worlds-shaking decisions to their children, the baton (or, I suppose, lightsaber) is being explicitly passed on to a new generation. Fisher’s daughter, Billie Lourd, even appears in the film, as Lieutenant Kaydel Connix—a confident young member of the Resistance.
Carrie Fisher as Leia Organa in Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Fisher and Leia are both fundamental parts of Star Wars canon and history, as leaders and nurturers. Newcomer Tran has said of Fisher’s subtle influence on set, “I don’t know how to explain it—without even protecting me, she was. Just by being herself.” In The Last Jedi, Leia is both the figurehead and the leader of the Resistance. Calm and resolute, she strategizes at a grand scale and unhesitatingly doles out punishment where warranted. Her competence is clearly the result of a trying campaign that has required her to be no less than her best, lest everything be lost.
What “best” means here is complicated: Fisher’s performance lands Leia somewhere between tender, grave, and astute; and yet she must also be a constant beacon of hope for her people. Surely this weighs on her—the fate of a galaxy, the lives of those who do her bidding—and it does. Yet she goes on. Remember the bound princess in a bikini, pleading for help? This is what she became, and it’s a wonder.
This royal flush of women look even more extraordinary in comparison to their male counterparts. It’s not to say that Finn’s bravery and Poe’s daring fade into the background; they certainly get and deserve their time in the sun this time around. (Not to mention the scene-stealing BB-8.) But against the grasping hubris of Snoke, Luke’s prolonged sleepaway camp, the bumbler-playing-badass Hux, and Kylo, with his miserably distorted moral compass, the achievements of these women shine more brightly. (Sound familiar?)
Far from Star Wars‘ laddish origins, The Last Jedi puts women at the forefront—amazingly, without congratulating itself for doing so—and treats them as equals. How refreshing. In our world, women aren’t always given that chance. To see women lead, fight, and decide, to see them simply get things done? Well, isn’t that something.
From: ELLE UK