Maybe it has to do with growing up as the daughter of the director of one of the most machismo-driven films ever made, The Godfather, that has Sofia Coppola slightly in the dark about what, exactly, the Bechdel test is. For those of you similarly unclear about what it is, let’s break it down quickly by saying it was a test invented by graphic novelist Alison Bechdel in the mid-80s to describe her criteria for seeing a movie: 1) it must feature two “named” women (how sad that that would even need to be specified considering how faceless so many women often tend to be, especially to men) and 2) those women must talk to each other about something besides a man (again, a pretty depressing reality that this criterion needs to be set forward at all, since women should theoretically be intelligent enough to find other subjects to discuss).
Naturally, one would assume that as one of the only female directors to receive a Palme d’Or in the category of Best Director, Coppola would be extremely well-versed in this feministic tenet of film. Alas, in one of her latest interviews in promotion for The Beguiled, Coppola casually admitted to her GQ interviewer, “I’ve never heard of that. What’s that?” in response to the question, “Would you say this is the rare feminist film that struggles to pass the Bechdel test?” Conversely, the far more underrated Rachel Bloom at least knows to mock her character on Crazy Ex-Girlfriend for so frequently being incapable of passing the test.
Bizarrely enough, Coppola’s canon has always proven to pass this small list of specifications (though maybe The Virgin Suicides isn’t the best example), in spite of the fact that she apparently never even knew she was doing it. But maybe that’s the mark of a true feminist–someone so in tune with how much more there is to women than merely prattling about the latest dickhead to fuck them over that she doesn’t even need to stop twice to think about it when writing dialogue for her script. Still, in a stranger plot twist, The Beguiled features essentially nothing but white women talking about the same guy they’re all lusting after for different fulfillment reasons. That is, until romance gives way to collective vengeance. Nonetheless, Coppola has a lot of learning to do about her sistren if she wants to start resonating a bit more outside the Wes Anderson demographic.