Stage Beauty: A Fun and Sexy Period Comedy about Gender, Sex and Sexuality

Frailty thy name is man’s ego: Stage Beauty is the story of a young theatre dresser’s fight for equality in 17th century England. If you want to see people discussing gender, sex and sexuality while wearing bejeweled wigs, magnificent corsett dresses and tons of make-up, this film is for you.

Stage Beauty (2004): Directed by Richard Eyre; 106mins.; starring Claire Danes (Homeland), Billy Crudup (Almost Famous), Rupert Everett (My best friend’s wedding), Tom Wilkinson, Hugh Bonneville (Downton Abbey), Zoe Tapper (Mr Selfridge), Alice Eve (She’s out of my league).

What’s it about? A young woman’s dreams of becoming an actress at a time when women weren’t allowed to publicly perform.

What’s it really about? 17th century feminism and gender roles.

Pick if:

  • You’re looking for a fun and sexy costume comedy to watch with your girlfriends
  • You like period films such as Shakespeare in Love, or Elizabeth: Stage Beauty, too is brimming with gorgeous costumes and historical set design
  • You’re interested in feminist stories: as a woman who dreams of holding a man’s profession, Maria is essentially the HRC of her time, trying to shatter the glass ceiling
  • You’re interested in gender politics: Stage Beauty is a clever play on gender roles, sex and sexuality. As such the film was ahead of its time – Judith Butler has probably seen it dozens of times already
  • You’re a fan of Shakespeare’s work: most of Stage Beauty revolves around the play “Othello” which is generally considered one of the Bard’s greatest tragedies
  • You’re intrigued by films about complicated mentor/mentée relationships such as All About Eve: while Maria adores Kynaston, she is hurt by his lack of support while he feels betrayed by her stepping out of his shadow to pursue a career of her own – and in the process destroying his

Most memorable scene:

After being banned from his profession as a result of her revolt, Kynaston has to teach Maria how to act.

Most memorable quote:

“I always hated you as Desdemona. You never fought, you just died beautifully, No woman would ever die like that, no matter how much she loved him. A woman would FIGHT!”

Where can I watch? Stage Beauty is available on Amazon and Google Play.

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