Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn): Self Love Soars

By St. Marla's Journal contributor Emily-Ann Elizabeth Trautman

Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn is a twist on the age old story of heartbreak and overcoming it…but with a smidge of dark DC Comics flair.

Harley Quinn, played by the ever versatile Margot Robbie, portrays a woman running from her newfound reality of being alone, along with everyone she’s ever wronged. Now not only does she have the breakup blues, but is also phasing into Gotham’s most wanted sans protection. The film quickly morphs into Quinn surrounding herself with a bad ass feminist girl gang and ultimately letting them into her life and learning to love the one who truly matters most, herself.

Throw some dark villainous DC characters in the mix, with a dash of cataclysm, thorough and graphic fight scenes and a thin veil of grime on every character to make sure we know it’s a DC film and we have ourselves a classic.

The cinematography is staggering and reflects the ubiquitous and scattered personality of one Harley Quinn. Whip pan shots, quick cuts and slow-mo fight sequences kept my eyes jumping across the screen and my mind involved in every scene of the film. Being a Marvel girl myself, as far as DC films go, I was very impressed. Margot Robbie put on a performance that would entice and impress anyone, fully embodying the borderline lunatic, former sidekick-only character of Quinn, while simultaneously blurring the lines of herself. She truly becomes the character and carries that through the entirety of the film.

While this rise of feminine power, badassery and energy had me thinking to myself, “I wish there were more representations of women like this when I was younger,” I found myself stumbling on the concept of feminism and how it is portrayed in film. Although incredibly entertaining, I feel as though the film spent almost too much time on the breakup, heartache and male role in it rather than, for instance, what could have been a more in depth backstory for Harley. With this begs the question, can we have a progressive, feminist film without involvement from a male presence? To what extent does feminism actually rely on men? However, I believe director Cathy Yan took this stance to humanize Quinn’s character and make her more relatable for almost anyone in the audience. We’ve all been there. Heartbreak that feels damaging to the soul, hiding out so people aren’t questioning you, making poor choices on a whim to validate our feelings, drinking away our blues, adopting a hyena to fill the void in our hearts…Okay, maybe not that last part, but you get the point. Overall, we resonate and we empathize with Quinn as the film moves forward.

Birds of Prey is a love story, or anthem if you will, showing the audience before you can truly love another, you have to fully love yourself. Within emancipation, find comfortability.


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