Wimbledon is a delightful story about romance and the cutting-edge nature of sports. Peter, a pro tennis player, is burnt out and has greatly fallen in the rankings. One day, he meets a young woman, Lizzie, a rising star who is competing for the same title, Wimbledon. Through their relationship, Peter is able to recapture his focus while her game falters. Lizzie’s overprotective father is determined to end their relationship in order to maintain Lizzie’s game. She eventually loses in the semi-final round and blaming Peter for her loss, she leaves. Without Lizzie’s encouragement, Peter’s confidence starts to shake and he begins to lose in the final round. Ready to admit defeat, Lizzie returns and Peter wins Wimbledon.
Given the genre of the film, there is both a male and female protagonist. The women portrayed in the film are generally not reduced to stereotypes and are fairly represented; however I felt that I could not award a check to representing women as more than “objects for the male gaze.”. Lizzie is an athlete so she is portrayed as being driven and ambitious, but also as a flirt with regards to the early stages of her relationship with Peter. In the beginning of the film, Peter accidentally walks into the wrong hotel rooms and sees Lizzie showering; after that their relationship starts out by fooling around with no strings attached. Although their relationship evolves into more than having sex, it is a main facet of their partnership. In another scene, Peter’s brother picks up a woman and it is implied that it is mainly a sexual relationship.
Wimbledon represents other types of women in the film, but fails to meet some of the criteria of the test.. One of Lizzie’s opponents is a woman of color and this is who Lizzie loses her match to. After the match is over, it shows her opponent giving a brief interview regarding the match. The woman has a small speaking roll, but is not reduced to a racial stereotype. Also as many of the women depicted in the film are athletes, there are not a wide variety of body types represented. While many of the women in the film are young athletes competing for Wimbledon, several women over 45 appear several times in the film, including Peter’s mother and a group of ladies who watch the tournament.
I think that there are two moments in the film that are borderline passing the Bechdel Test. The first is early on in the film when Lizzie is doing an interview. She says, “I get a lot of questions about my personal life; I usually don’t answer them” and then shifts the conversation to her motivation and the game. This is borderline passing because while the interviewer is a woman, she is unnamed; however, they are talking about tennis and not men. The second example is during a brunch/break when Peter runs into his friend Billi who introduces him to her partner, Sophia. Before we meet them, you can hear Billi in the background speaking forcefully in spanish as if she is very passionate or disagrees with something. While we don’t know what they are talking about, both character a named women and when Peter approaches them, he asks them about Lizzie. Both of these instances sit at the threshold of passing the test; therefore, I deemed them worthy of passing the Bechdel Test.
With regards to the men in the film, I think that they are depicted fairly as well. While the Lizzie’s father is over protective and Peter is coquettish, neither of them are violent and the other men in the film are non-violent as well. I am hesitant to award this check as there is one instance where Peter punches a competing athlete vying for Lizzie’s affection; however, I am going to say that this does not glorify being violent as it was not done in a malicious way. He punched the guy once to make a point, not to be violent or mean.
Peter’s father falls into a non-stereotypical role as he is an overly caring father. His parents do not agree on supporting Peter in his endeavors to win Wimbledon, so his father becomes temporarily kicked out of the house. Peter’s father temporarily lives in the treehouse in their backyard where he is devoted to watching his son play every match on the TV. I feel that a stereotypical role of a father would be showing his son tough-love. While Peter and his father are not directly interacting here, his father is still incredibly devoted to his son and is bent on watching him do well which I believe falls into a non-stereotypical role.
As mentioned above, there is a lesbian couple, Billi and Sophia, who Peter talks to. While they only have about 35 seconds of screen time, they are still there and are not reduced to a stereotype. Not many races, ethnicities or cultures depicted in the film; therefore, the film does not acknowledge these stereotypes and there is no one in the film with a disability.
Overall, I think the Representation Test is a good concept, but not necessarily a fair way to ‘grade’ films. Each category has a wide variety of questions that is representative of the worldly demographic. I think that this test touches on a lot of issues we talked about regarding the film industry such as the age of women in film, how men and women are portrayed, racial and minority stereotypes and more; however, I do not imagine many movies actually passing due to the large spectrum of topics it covers. I was surprised at how well Wimbledon scored because I had a low expectation.