An art student taps into a rich source of creative inspiration after the accidental slaughter of her rapist. An unlikely vigilante emerges, set out to avenge college girls whose attackers walked free- all the while fueling a vivid thesis exhibition.
Critique de Nikayaya
I’ll start with the good parts of M.F.A., a film seeking to represent the rape culture rampant on college campuses in the United States. The film itself is well constructed, choosing to use Noelle (Francesa Eastwood) as its sole focal point so that the audience can experience the evolution of a single rape victim. We follow Francesca in her evolution of a timid college senior to a woman bent on revenge for a crime prevalent without consequence. We cringe as person after person, many of them women, attempt to convince her that the best step to take after rape is to accept it. From her initial conversation with her roommate, to the female school counselor, the audience is lead to feel that rape on campuses is more of a stigma for the victim than the perpetrator, which unfortunately rings of truth.
Almost fluidly this steers Noelle to revenge. But after the accidental death of her own rapist, her need for revenge only seems to increase, and translates to a sloppy killing spree, one difficult to route for, even knowing her drive. And while Eastwood is convincing as timid Noelle with a crush initially, she nails her transition as a femme fatale, making you wish that she was playing any other feminist bad ass but a recent rape victim.
And now the bad: every victim reacts differently to rape, and while that is demonstrated in M.F.A., it seems almost counterproductive to its cause. Noelle is seen upset, seeking outjustice, but finds only oblivious or conniving women. And when a male is interjected, she seems comfortable with him in a way that doesn’t seem plausible just a week after such a violent intrusion. Gratuitous shots of Eastwood, both naked and dressed, seem almost tone deaf to a movie based in violence on women. And while the revenge killings seemed to be an answer for a lax legal system, she is portrayed ultimately as a vengeful perpetrator versus what she actually is, a victim.
The intentions behind M.F.A. seem to have been good, bringing to light an issue that is a disregarded plague on campuses, but unfortunately the intention was buried in the deliverance. Rape is a hard topic, even harder when so much weight is put on the victims shoulder versus the attacker. M.F.A. had the opportunity to demonstrate that, but fell just short of telling the full story, and that is just unfortunate for the women and men it tried to represent.
- Note de Nikayaya: 3.5