After her 2019 comedy Wine Country, Amy Poehler returns to directing for Netflix with Moxie, a film about sexism, racism and injustice in an American high school. Vivian (Hadley Robinson), a sixteen-year-old student, starts to realise the full scope of how her misogynistic, toxic and unfair school operates, perpetuated by an ignorant and condescending principal and teachers. She begins an anonymous-feminist magazine called Moxie and distributes it throughout her school which in turn inspires other female students to stand up against their unfair treatment.
Vivian’s revolt unveils a deep funnel of horrendous prejudice towards the female student body, especially towards girls of colour and girls who are handicapped. They are subjected to ratings from their male peers in the annual list that includes categories such as “best ass”, “most bangable” and “most obedient”. The primary antagonist, Mitchell (Patrick Schwarzenegger), is seemingly the perfect jock and all-star student, but in reality he harasses, gaslights and leads the toxic-male attitude towards his female peers.
What this movie so poignantly captures is how such vile occurrences ingrain themselves in society so that they appear the norm to all, not just men. Vivian, inspired by her mother’s (Poehler) feminist-protesting past, embarks on a journey of both self-discovery and realisation for the female population at her school.
Promising Young Woman personified the rage that women feel when rape victims are not believed and ignored, touching on the frustration and anger women feel when discussing this issue. Moxie offers this perspective from the teenage girl: how they are expected to adhere to dress codes that male students get to evade, how male students torment girls and are still considered to be the exemplar student and how teenagers are ignored and dismissed by adults who feign ignorance to the problem at large in the hope that it solves itself.
Moxie also manages to portray the harrowing effect of frustration at systematic sexism and racism, unveiling what happens when the protests are still unheard and silenced. This is a feature that shows the different ways women choose to express themselves, whether it’s quietly supporting in the background or taking centre stage. It shows what it truly means to take on the patriarchy and although it is sometimes glorious, it is never easy. An important, empowering and passionate work, that will make the viewer simultaneously laugh, cry and want to punch their hand through a wall.
Moxie is released on Netflix on 3rd March 2021.
Watch the trailer for Moxie here: