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Foreign Films Portraying Female Power: La Femme Nikita March 27, 2007

Posted by ajaramillo in La Femme Nikita.

One thing that struck me about La Femme Nikita was how much the movie portrayed Nikita as having real reactions during her missions. While it may have made it more of a “female action movie” had Nikita kept her cool and never cried during the missions( like Sydney Bristow), depicting Nikita as confused and emotional made her seem much more relatable and made the movie, in my opinion, far more realistic than the American films that we come to associate with female power.

Although I do applaud Besson for attempting to humanize Nikita by allowing her to cry and show fear, he did not employ the same technique for the males in the movie. While Nikita was emotional throughout the film, she was surrounded by men who maintained very calm and expressionless demeanors, most notably in the case of “Victor the cleaner.” Also, all of her operations were done under strict male supervision with a very emotionless man telling her what to do. While allowing Nikita to cry could have come off as humanizing and realistic, it instead sent out a patronizing message that men are more calm and collected in high-risk situations.

The film had many instances where Nikita was being watched and evaluated, as if she was in a panopticon prison. The underground layer where she trained allowed Bob keep track of her progress while maintaining invisibility. The embassy’s security camera also gave a sentiment of an invisible omniscience. However, while in the beginning of the film she knew she was being watched and she rebelled, by the end the “watching” presence scares her and causes her to loose her cool. I found this regression interesting and thought that it would probably never happen in American films portraying strong female protagonists.



1. rachaelg - March 28, 2007

I disagree with some of your points. Though Nikita shows emotion, she still manages to get the job done. (Crying and sweating in the bathroom while talking with her boyfriend and still managing to snipe some lady through the window?) The men remain calm for the most part, but remember the ambassador’s look-a-like? He freaked out and it got him shot. Nikita freaked out, too, but at least she pulled it together enough to stay alive. I didn’t see her emotions and the men’s calm as patronizing. To me, it was just a symbol of the power they had over her. She had no control over her life: they did. That’s why I don’t see her running away at the end a sign of her losing her cool or a regression; I see it as a symbol of her taking control of her own life for once, though it will be a difficult life on the run and in hiding.

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