Birds of Prey
Most people, when they get dumped, binge on ice cream and hammer their friends’ ears with lamentations (and possibly terrible, terrible karaoke). But Harley Quinn is not most people, so when the Joker dumps her, she adopts a hyena and blows up part of Gotham. And that’s just the start of this loud, boisterous glitter bomb of a film. Now that Hollywood has realised that not all geeks possess penises – some have breasts, and not just the kind that stem from too much Domino’s and not enough walking – we’re getting comic book films made by and for women. And it’s super fun!
Birds of Prey has the same hyperactive flippancy as Deadpool. Margot Robbie, despite her luminous beauty, is impossible to dislike. Her Harley Quinn is just the right side of petulant and psychopathic to mean that you still root and feel for her (especially when she loses her sandwich). Robbie, who is also a producer whose company helped get the film made, is a manic heroine fuelled by some nuclear grade daddy issues. Without the Joker for protection, a lot of people are after her – not least Ewan McGregor’s camp but hideous Black Mask.
The many fight scenes that ensue are inventive and look amazing. Robbie doesn’t let her training from I, Tonya go to waste, using it for some impressive roller skate stunts. Director Cathy Yan choreographs the fights so that women fighting men use their smaller size as an advantage: being quicker and more nimble. At one point Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) literally rides a mercenary down a funhouse slide while shooting him with a crossbow. Not that it’s right to condone violence, but since we are so used to seeing violence on screen perpetrated by men against women, it is refreshing to see it the other way round.
The visuals are great: the climax takes place in a deserted theme park; Harley takes over a police station using confetti bombs. The soundtrack is perfect and enhances the action. The costumes are spectacular: gold jeans, a jacket conjured from tinsel, Black Mask wearing a shirt printed with his own face. Some might call these touches frivolous, but cinema is foremost a visual medium, and the look of the film and its world is stunning.
The only way the film could possibly be improved is if Joaquin Phoenix had turned up and if the hallucinatory scene where Harley becomes a punk version of Marilyn Monroe singing Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend were extended. The film’s take on the iconic satin fuchsia look was subversive and deserved longer.
The word empowering has been bandied about to the point of meaninglessness, but this film leaves you strutting out of the cinema with your own theme tune in your head. Surely there is no better endorsement than that.
Birds of Prey is released nationwide on 7th February 2020.
Watch the trailer for Birds of Prey here: