The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test: A Most Violent Year

In A Most Violent Year, Abel (Oscar Isaac) is a business man who owns a fuel company and who wants to expand. However, once Abel actually makes a move to expand, one disaster after another occurs and Abel realizes that there may be no one that he can trust, including his wife (Jessica Chastain).

The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test

A Most Violent Year passes the Bechdel and race test but does not pass the Russo test.

Abel talks to his bank about his loan.

A Most Violent Year passes the Bechdel test because there is one instance where named women/girls talk to each other without mentioning men – when Anna asks her daughter Kathy where she found a gun. A Most Violent Year also passes the race test, and the film passes this test because there are several occasions where non-White actors speak to each other without mentioning White people.

As to the Russo test, A Most Violent Year does not pass this test, and the film does not pass this test because there are no identifiable LGBTI 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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