Film Forum's new series on Women's Crime Fiction

Film Forum is running a special series of films adapted from crime fiction by women authors. The series is meant to coincide with the release of the Library of America's collection of Women's Crime fiction that I reviewed for PopMatters a couple weeks ago.

Everyone should watch these films because they're really fabulous, but it's equally important that the actual books get read as well. Often the feminine perspective in them was suppressed or completely effaced as the texts were forced through the masculine framework of film noir, and, as is the case with IN A LONELY PLACE, they bear little significance to their parent texts.

 

I'm not someone who expects fidelity from adaptations, and I think that approaches to cross-media adaptations that use the fidelity framework tend to be uninteresting and dismissive of the values of repetition and re-articulation that adaptations can embody. However, when you're talking about a literary and film history that is thematically concerned with gender and genre, it's important to trace such changes across the process of adaptation because sometimes the most salient aspects of critique or social commentary can get lost. Women had specific things to say about their experience in American society when they were writing crime fiction, and those things aren't always preserved in the move to film.

Too long, didn't read -- watch Film Forum's new series, but stagger your viewing with readings of the actual texts written by women. The films have already contributed to the erasure of women's contributions to the genre. With this recent anthology, there is no reason to continue letting them do so.