Blood and Chocolate: Nothing to see here, move along

Ide Cyan posted a heads up about the movie Blood and Chocolate at the Feminist SF blog back in February. She said “It’s a movie about a female werewolf, directed by a woman, and based on a book written by a woman.” So I thought sure, I’ll see that, and eventually the magic of Netflix brought it to my house when it was released on DVD.

Aside from reminding me how badly we need curtains in the TV room if we’re going to watch movies set mostly at night, I can’t say that this film added much to my life. I hoped Vivian, the young werewolf caught in a patriarchal society, would rebel and kick some butt. Instead she spends most of her time feeling bad and watching her boyfriend bust out with mad hand-to-hand combat skillz. Though the young werewolf men are shown with supernatural strength and agility, we rarely see Vivian do anything that requires much beyond average human athleticism.

Her life revolves around various men, following the pattern set by the aunt who raised her. Granted, this is the plot of the story. Vivian is facing a forced marriage to the werewolf pack leader, who has a son who seems devoted to picking on her, but instead she falls in love with a human man. However, I think there’s a way to write a story where a woman is in relationships with men without sacrificing her initiative. Vivian just reacts.

The relationship with her boyfriend is supposed to be the positive one, but it wasn’t all that impressive. When she’s initially trying to get rid of him, she tells him she has a boyfriend. His comeback? “Would you have been in a church at 3 a.m. if you had a boyfriend?” Way to invalidate female agency, bucko.

Blood and Chocolate gets one star. It’s not patently offensive, but it’s not doing anything for the cause. Perhaps I will read the book someday and see if it’s any better.

This post was originally published on Heroine Content, a feminist and anti-racist movie blog that ran from July 2006 to May 2012.

3 thoughts on “Blood and Chocolate: Nothing to see here, move along

  1. Ide Cyan

    Everyone who’s read the book has found the movie adaptation deeply lacking, and very, very different from the original (wherein Vivian is a teenager going to high school in the USA, not a young woman in Romania, there’s more sex, and the ending’s completely different). (The script, I should note? Was written by men.)

    I hadn’t read the book, so I liked the movie regardless of its being rather typical in sidelining the female lead, since I enjoyed the setting and the tone and the werewolves. The direction, in short, so I’m glad to give the director support for her movie.

    The Ginger Snaps films do a good deal better in terms of addressing feminism and werewolves, but they’re horror rather than fantasy, and, as such, a lot bleaker. (They were written by women and directed by men, which is the inverse of Blood & Chocolate.)

  2. darkmanifest

    I don’t know if the book is really better. Vivian is the same wet rag of a character she sounds like she is in the movie. She does get to kick a little ass, but it’s usually only against other women, and often because of a man (besides one incident in which she’s defending her mother which is Vivian’s coolest moment IMO ). Gabriel is still stalking and sexually harassing her, only in the book we’re supposed to find it OMG hawt or something. Astrid is Evil, Rafe remains a jerk, and Vivian wangsts. A lot.

    The only upsides besides the beautiful writing are A) the description of laws and customs of a werewolf society in detail, B) the fact that she pursues Aiden instead of vice versa, and C) her relationship with her mother, nicely complex. The ending will probably make you mad. Even when I was a teenager long before feminism, it made me mad.

  3. leo

    I haven’t seen the movie, but have read the book. From what you say and what the comments say, they sound completely different. In the book, Vivian kicks Astrid’s butt and some other dude’s butt, and saves Gabriel and Adien. The only problem I had was with the males being pack leader. Astrid wanted to try to be pack leader, and instead of respecting that, they all gained up on her, where it was like ten against one, and she had no chance.

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