What the 'Carrie' Remake Means For Women in Hollywood
So far, the reviews for Kimberly Peirce's 2013 remake of Carrie are mixed. Many fans and critics alike have suggested that remaking the 1976 Brian De Palma film is "unnecessary." The remake is facing a sea of tough critics in people who loved the Stephen King novel of the same name and the original film, but should it carve out a nice spot for itself in this weekend's box office following its Oct. 18 release, it could represent a giant leap for women in Hollywood.
And while stars Chloe Moretz and Julianne Moore are wonderful actresses who'll only serve to gain from Carrie's successes, they aren't the faces of this leap. For that, we look behind the camera at writer and director Peirce, whose name is being dropped often and prominently as we worked our way up to the mid-October release. In a world where "big budget Hollywood director" and "woman" are practically mutually exclusive unless your name is Kathryn Bigelow, watching Peirce find praise and profits thanks to this horror film would be a much-needed step in a behind-the-scenes realm dominated by men.
Peirce isn't just a name attached to a big budget movie. Unlike some more well-known female directors, like Catherine Hardwicke (Twilight, Red Riding Hood) — and let's be honest, many directors of both sexes — she's not one to take on a project simply to pay the bills. She doesn't dabble in teenage romance or desperate AMC shows (sorry, Low Winter Sun, I couldn't resist one more Breaking-burn). Peirce's patience knows no bounds.
After graduating from Columbia, she worked tirelessly to write and produce Boys Don't Cry, the 1999 independent movie starring Hilary Swank as a dramatized version of Brandon Teena, a trans man who was brutally beaten, raped, and murdered by men who found out he was anatomically a woman. After the film was received with loads of critical fanfare, Swank won an Oscar for her role. Right out the gate, Peirce was swinging hard and hitting it out of the park.
In 2008, Peirce's Stop-Loss (which she also wrote and directed) debuted to even more critical acclaim. The heartbreaking film about an Iraq War veteran returning home to find his life in shambles also earned the young director a few indie directing awards. Prior to taking on Carrie, Peirce hadn't become a household name; she hadn't helmed a long line of films; but she did prove herself to be a discerning artist prone to wait it out for a project that speaks to her. This is a woman worthy of promoting the slowly-changing tide in Hollywood.
What's more is Peirce's status as a proud gay woman. If Carrie succeeds, Peirce is sure to garner more offers to direct — and likely more projects that would pass her strict levels of discernment. This means Peirce will enter the realm of main stream recognition as a director, where the tiny pool of women includes Sophia Coppola, Julie Taymor, Penny Marshall, and the late Nora Ephron, and add some much-needed diversity to the lineup.
But ultimately, gender balance prospects aside, if Carrie does well, one very talented and under-appreciated director does well. And that's something any film-loving person can applaud. So while some critics may find the remake an affront to cinematic history, I'm unabashedly hoping for the film's success so the world will come to know this worthy auteur (who just so happens to be a woman) just a little better.