Reviews of movies and TV focused on women

Review: Flashback, French comedy gets feminist

Caroline Vigneaux in Flashback

Flashback is a wild French comedy starring, written by, and directed by Caroline Vigneaux. It’s sci-fi, or perhaps a hangover dream, about a lawyer who travels back in time to meet several French feminists.

Flashback begins with lawyer Charlie Leroy (Caroline Vigneaux) getting a rapist off using the argument that since the woman he raped was wearing a red thong, she consented to sex. Like many things in this film, this argument is based on some measure of truth.

Charlie goes out with her friends and gets roaring drunk to celebrate her victory in court. When she’s finally ready to go home, she gets in a cab driven by Hubert (Issa Doumbia). Hubert is actually god, or the ghost of Christmas past, or a fairy godfather. It isn’t clear who he is, but he has magic powers. He’s there to teach Charlie a few things about being a woman in a man’s world.

Charlie is dumped into all sorts of situations involving women’s rights. She jumps from pre-history to the French Revolution to the 1960s to the granting of women’s right to vote in France in 1945 and other places along the way.

In good ways and bad, she interacts with people like Olympe de Gouges, Robespierre, Nicolas de Condorcet, Napoléon Bonaparte, Marie Curie, and George Sand. She even meets her parents and grandparents at various ages.

Emy Ltr in Flashback

Jeanne d’Arc (Emy Ltr) was one of the women she met. When she arrived in that time period, she was in a pig pen. A whole bunch of women were forced to undress and were judged by some dude from the church as to whether or not they had the mark of the devil. When it was time to dress again, Charlie put on someone else’s clothing – some clothes not covered in pig poo. This left her trousers and shirt for Jeanne d’Arc to put on.

Therefore, Jeanne d’Arc was killed for the blasphemy of dressing like a man. Later, when Charlie met George Sand, who dressed like a man, Sand got her a doctor’s note stating she was allowed to cross dress for medical reasons.

She was with Napoléon when he wrote the Napoleonic Code, which declared women to be the property of men. She drove a coach over Pierre Curie, thus helping Marie Curie be accepted as a lecturer at the Sorbonne, which had never had a woman lecturer before.

I’ve told you enough of the events for you to realize that the situations and stories are bizarre, but taken all together they do paint a picture of the progress of women’s rights over the ages.

When she gets back to her real life, will she be a better person? Flashback is a silly and ridiculous journey to making a point about women’s rights, but it works.

The poster for Flashback

I can’t find you a trailer with English subtitles. Even the trailer on Prime Video doesn’t have English subtitles. But here’s the French version.

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4 responses to “Review: Flashback, French comedy gets feminist”

  1. My family just wants to film on Amazon Prime and we did have subtitles and we all thoroughly enjoyed the film.

  2. Flashback was so wonderfully done, and its theme is so important, that we can forgive it for its over-the-top caricatures and relentlessness. Political comedy does not need nuance, subtlety, and counterpoint. I happily sense some Brecht in this farce. The stupidity and repression of misogyny are still not obvious to everyone, so it is time for comedies like this one to make the case for equality. The fast pace, and the protagonist’s slow coming to her senses, help make this art, not polemic.

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