At some point in 1992, Courtney Love and Eric Erlandson, then the only existing half of the group Hole, the other half had just left them, wrote a song in half, an ode to female self-destruction before the mirror of the social, which has it took almost two decades to find its place. It is a fair, desperate and deliciously macabre place, of pieces that don’t fit, but that pretend to do so very well. Not in vain, of that, of the abyss that bites from within, speaks Miss World, axis on which Karyn Kusama builds the fascinating tone of Yellowjackets (Movistar +). It is a return, in every sense, to the cinema indie 1990s, an expansion of the brilliantly savage universe traced by classics of the feminine collective like Heathers (1988) and, why not, Young men and witches (1996), which normalizes the exception and could have made it the rule.
Kusama, such a lover of the best Hole album, Live Through This, who even dedicated his first film to him –Jennifer’s Body is, in addition to his fascinating debut behind the camera, a song from that album—, it prints a tone that pays tribute to all that is honorable to what is written by Ashley Lyle and Bart Nickerson, the marriage behind the story that can be seen as a crossover Come in Lost, They live!, Y Lord of the Flies from a William Golding who would have read Carrieby Stephen King, and I would have decided that a girls ‘micro society in the middle of the woods was going to have a lot more chances than a boys’ one. Because it does. In part, because, to this day, it was still a lush terrain, so timidly explored by fiction of any kind, that, from the outset, the mystery would be on their side.
Crush to belong
But, let us start at the beginning. This is what is counted in Yellowjackets, a hybrid of so many genres that allows us to ignore the same idea of genre — horror, comedy, drama, macabre adventure, very rare coming of age-. In 1996, a women’s high school soccer team, the title Yellowjackets, travels by plane from their native New Jersey to another point in the United States, with no other company than a couple of coaches and the two teenage sons of one of them. them (one of whom hates girls for their lost prominence, a nod to these times as subtle as it is perfect). They are going to participate in national competitions because they are really good. All except the one who broke her leg the day before – a bone in sight – for being too bad. Here is a first sample of the infinite cruelty of the girls.
Something is wrong and the plane crashes in the middle of a forest where no one goes to look for them. We will soon know why. And when we know it, we will have before us the first of the morals of the matter: to exclude is dangerous. Very dangerous. And here is the main virtue of a production that brings back three key names of that cinema indie 90s —Christina Ricci, Juliette Lewis, and the celestial creature Melanie Lynskey, the three of them superb in the shoes of three of the survivors in a future in which they remain nothing more than open wounds -, which allows us to detect each of the mistakes of the past, including the exclusion of the girls from their own idea of an evil built out of necessity, the need to crush to belong, something never seen with such clarity and nuances as here.
Because, obviously, after the accident, hunger comes and things go terribly wrong. “You know what? What attracts me to the cannibal is the idea of hunger. Of the number of ways in which women die and have starved themselves throughout history. Literally and metaphorically. The lives of adolescents and women are marked by their relationship with their bodies. And that I think is talked about through cannibalism both in Jennifer’s Body like in Yellowjackets, of what you come to hate yourself for having to fit in physically, “Kusama said not too long ago about how his debut film and his first pilot episode dialogue, in some way, with each other. They do, without a doubt, and their answer puts the finger on the wound.
The superb construction of characters, and the decision to tear the story apart, tell it in two stages, the present threatened by a ridiculous postcard of the protagonists – someone knows exactly where to find them, and wants something, which for the viewer is a mystery, thanks to the number of layers in which the plot is articulated — does the rest. That is, to tell like never before how friendship and female enmity models, so hard, sometimes in a way so twisted, painful as it is completely accepted, invisible, unseen. Among many other things, Yellowjackets allows the relationship between girls to look at each other for as long as necessary in a mirror that fiction had barely placed before it, and we think, more than substitutes mainstream, in the opening minutes of Brian De Palma’s adaptation of Carrie.
But without the constant time travel – at least Lost and, above all, to Orange Is the New Black– which allows us to understand each of the protagonists, who visit, from the present, even their child self, tying down to the last end of their own unfathomable world, the thing would not reach the level of perfection that it reaches. Because Yellowjackets is a series that grows as it progresses, like the forest in which the girls were lost for 19 months, it becomes more and more lush, and installs in the viewer the feeling of debt in the face of exclusion that this type of character which was half the world’s population — suffered especially in the 1990s.
One last note on the idea of exclusion. Every hit written by a sounding woman — and the Down by the Water PJ Harvey is the best example, how could it not sound at the time anywhere? How could they all be there without anyone seeing them? – it’s a shot to a decade that, in Kusawa’s words, “chewed and spit on women, and then blamed them for being smashed to pieces.” Without a doubt, one of the series of the year. And the best of the end of the year.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.