It’s been a while since there’s been a good, strong, well-done feminist film and I’m excited to say that ‘Peace, Love, & Misunderstanding’ is one of them. It stars Elizabeth Olsen, Catherine Kenner, and Jane Fonda, which is a winning combo, ladies. This movie chronicles three generations of women who are trying to find a way to understand each other after years of familial disintegration. Written by Joseph Muszynski and Christina Mengert and directed by Bruce Beresford, ‘Peace, Love, and Misunderstanding’ is a film about understanding, multi-generational empathy, and learning from both your mistakes and your success.
I really liked this film because I’m a young feminist who has recently become very close with my grandmother, who is not a feminist in any way. I think Zoe’s (Olsen) struggle in being a young feminist is interesting to watch as she navigates through both her grandmother and mother’s relationship (the two haven’t spoken in 20 years). Zoe’s mother (Keener) is the complete opposite of her mother (Fonda) and has never allowed her children to meet their grandmother. But when marital problems hit, she packs up the kids and heads back home to her mother (‘Hope Floats’, anyone?). Over the course of a few summers, they get to know each other and begin to repair a very fractured relationship, all the while learning about each other and life itself along the way.
Feminism is present in many forms in this film. Grandma Grace is a second-wave feminist flower child who loved the 60’s and free love and feels women should do whatever they want and feel is right. Diane (Keener) was born at Woodstock—and has rebelled against it ever since. She is an uptight New York lawyer, highly educated and financially self-sufficient. She sees her mother as a flippant selfish woman. Then there is young Zoe (Olsen) who’s somewhere in between both of them. Her feminism is not fully formed yet, and watching it mature is the fun of this film.
I really liked the idea of this film because feminism itself is so fragmented and dysfunctional. You have people like us that think you can be feminine and feminist then you have people that think you have to be very masculine to be feminist. You have slut-shaming and slut walks. People who think that being a stay-at-home mom is feminist and some that think only if you are self-sufficient and making your own way are you a feminist. It’s a very confused path and this movie illustrates that with its multiple generations and nuances of relationships. Anyone who enjoys feminism and chick flicks should probably check out this movie.