Some of the Saturday perks of a 4-girl apartment include loud music, nail polish, and movies; a cliché girl’s night every weekend.
Last Saturday, after an intense game of laser tag and painting our toenails various shades of blue, we made a unanimous decision to watch the 2013 Halle Berry movie “The Call”. Only one of us had ever seen this crime-thriller before, and based on said roommate’s persistence, I had some pretty high expectations. The majestic TriStar opening overtook our small dorm-sized screen. Music went up, lights went down, and we settled into the conclusion of our weekly ritual.
I’m sad to say that I was disappointed.
Don’t get me wrong, I really do appreciate the effort of having a black female lead. That was awesome. However, this film is ridiculous regarding male-female equality. Outside of several technical errors, it completely distorted the image of women in the workforce.
First off, whoever directed this film, please: I know I’m a little late to the party, but come on, what was the point of adding in an underlying romance between Jordan the Dispatcher and Paul the Cop? Did that do anything for the plotline? It didn’t seem to hold any relevance in terms of character development and only seemed to exploit the hindrance of emotional attachment, which contradicts the film’s conclusion of highlighting the advantages of it. Jordan is sometimes preoccupied regarding her relationship with Paul, but the issue is only called out once by Jordan's boss, stating that she seems 'distracted', likely due to her night spent with Paul. Really, why was that relationship there?
But the ending is what really got me: instead of calling the police, Jordan, the Halle-Berry-main-lady-911-dispatcher-turned-investigator, and the kidnapped-now-escaped girl, Casey, decide to let the kidnapper live out his last days starving to death in the cellar that served as a fetishized homicide haven. This was intended to be a heroic, even noble act, but this may have been the most selfish action either of the two women could have taken.
At this point of the film, we know that the kidnapper Michael Foster has killed multiple women. This means that Jordan finding Foster gives her the opportunity to bring justice to Casey’s family along with the other families affected.
But of course, they don’t do that.
Instead of doing the right thing and calling the cops like anyone with half a brain, Jordan listens to the advice of a traumatized teenager instead of her apparent expertise in the field and leaves the kidnapper to rot away in the dark, along with all the unsolved murders of Foster’s other victims. Like, that’s it? No trial? No Hearing? No justice for any of those girls, let alone their family? Really?
Movies aren’t real, and they don’t have to be realistic. That’s understandable. However, this was a ridiculously forced ending. The execution completely out of whack and even costumes (or lack thereof) were ridiculous. Halle Berry had been wearing a jacket for the entire final act, but for whatever reason decided to take it off during the last five minutes of the film, leaving her in a dirty fitted tank top and jeans. Again, was that really necessary? And Casey: the entire final act she had been shirtless (due to a prior confrontation with her kidnapper, which also seemed to be irrelevant in the progression of the story), but is never offered anything to cover up with once she’s rescued. Jordan (Halle) could have easily offered her the jacket she clearly wasn’t using anymore, but I guess that never crossed either of their (or even the director's) minds.
I found it very hard to ignore the subliminal sexist views this film adopted: the objectification of women’s bodies, our apparently inhibiting emotional capacities, and our inevitable dependence on men.
Once the credits started rolling, I looked around at my roommates. We are all capable, strong women that can make rational decisions without calling our boyfriends (imaginary or not) for approval. I hope none of us are ever in a situation remotely similar to the one presented in this film. Though I do hope we can get some girls in into law enforcement that can show The Call how to catch the bad guys the right way, and that they can do it with their jackets on.