Why You Should Go See Carrie Tonight

Fourteen years after Boys Don’t Cry, director Kimberly Peirce tells the tale of another outcast, this time with telekinetic powers.

BY Diane Anderson-Minshall

October 18 2013 11:23 AM ET UPDATED: October 18 2013 8:40 PM ET

Moretz as Carrie in the film's climactic scene.

 

The pressure is on with Carrie, though. Stephen King’s original manuscript for Carrie was rejected 30 times before he gave up and canned it. His wife, Tabitha, saw such potential in the story of a bullied and sheltered teen with telekinetic powers that she fished it out of the trash, and eventually, in 1974, it became King’s first published book.

Many agreed that the novel clearly reflected the struggle between feminists and antifeminists in the 1970s as well as the male concern with women’s rising power at the time.

“[King] has all kinds of understanding about women,” says Peirce, who discounts early feminist criticism that men couldn’t write real women’s stories. “When I read King again it was like, wow, it was the ’70s. Women were just getting power. Women have always been sexual, but their sexuality was more accepted by the culture — and isn’t this a story on some level about men’s fear of women?”

She says, sure, a man can be sensitive to women’s issues, but he’s still a man, which means “culturally he lives in a world where women’s power can be threatening. I thought that was really interesting lens to look at it and then to say, ‘OK, what does this story mean now, 40 years later?’ Because it’s not the same. Women have had, certainly not enough, but women have had more power. Women’s lib happened. Women’s sexuality is out there. Some people might say it’s a stretch to say it’s a feminist text. But in a lot of ways it is. The central character is a woman, the central relationships are between women — between a mother and a daughter and between a girl and all these other girls.”

It’s the girls that root Carrie, which comes out today. Consummate actress Julianne Moore plays Carrie’s Christian fundamentalist mother, Margaret, and Chloë Grace Moretz is the title character. The latter casting was occasionally criticized (the argument was that Moretz was too beautiful to play Carrie, unlike Sissy Spacek, who played Carrie in Brian De Palma’s 1976 version), but Peirce says she cast Moretz for realness. “I really have a teenager playing a teenage role. Sissy is a goddess, she did it great, she played it perfect. But let’s just say there’s room for something else.”

That something else means Peirce isn’t remaking De Palma’s film, she’s gone back to the book for her inspiration. So, without De Palma’s male gaze, can we expect fewer bouncy locker room scenes in slo-mo?

Tags: film

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