The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test: Mommy

Mommy, a French Canadian film, is an intense roller coaster of a movie that examines the relationship of a mother (Anne Dorval) and her son (Antoine-Olivier Pilon) and their relationship with their neighbor Kyla (Suzanne Clément), a woman with a speech impediment.

The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test

Mommy passes the Bechdel test but does not pass the Russo or race test.

Mommy passes the Bechdel test because there is one instance where named women talk to each other without mentioning men – when Diane speaks to a named friend about what kind of bills she wants.  However, while Mommy does pass the Bechdel test, it needs to be mentioned that it just barely manages to do so and this is an especially embarrassing fact for two reasons. One, because most of the characters in Mommy are named women, and two, because at least half of the conversations that occur, occur between named women, so this means that, except for one instance, every time women talk to each other, they talk about men. So like it was said, it’s really embarrassing that Mommy just passes the Bechdel test.

As to the Russo and race test, Mommy does not pass these tests because there are no LGBTI or non-White characters in the film.

*The Bechdel test entails three requirements:
1. It has to have at least two (named) women in it
2. Who talk to each other
3. About something besides a man

*The Vito Russo test entails three requirements:
1. The film contains a character that is identifiably lesbian, gay, bisexual, intersex and/or transgender
2. The character must not be solely or predominately defined by her sexual orientation, gender identity and/or as being intersex
3.The character must be tied into the plot in such a way that her removal would have a significant effect

***The race or people of color (POC) test has three requirements:
1. It has two people of color in it
2. Who talk to each other
3. About something other than a White person

****Just because a film passes the Bechdel, Russo and race test does not mean that it is not sexist, heterosexist, racist and/or cissexist, etc. The Bechdel, Russo and race test is only a bare minimum qualifier for the representation of LGBTI individuals, women and people of color in film. The failure to pass these tests also does not identify whether the central character was a woman, a person of color or a LGBTQI individual and it does not dictate the quality of the film.

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