The 1950’s embodied innocence, or at least that’s how it’s typically portrayed in films and TV shows. The “Leave it to Beaver” and “Andy Griffith Show” formula has been imitated and parodied countless times. The 2015 short film “The Girl in the Green Dress” is a thought-provoking, beautifully shot exploration of both society in the 1950’s, and present day.
Ann (Sara Fletcher), arrives in the picturesque town of New Harmony where she lives with her husband. Her life consists primarily of housework, and at the suggestion from her husband, Ann begins attending a book club. There she meets Page (Leah McKendrick), who eschews the traditional housewife mold. Page enjoys such controversial literature as Lolita. Page befriends Ann, and through their kinship, Ann transforms from a timid, conservative homemaker to confident individual. She wears bold colors, dons perfume, and appears more lively, and less meek.
The catalyst comes while reading a novel with her book group, The Girl in the Green Dress. Reality and fiction mesh, and the metamorphosis is told in segments that relay Ann and Page’s feelings as well as the book’s plot. It’s a cool concept, especially since part of the film is told through dance. While there are no words, the movements of the dancers (Ann and Page), convey their evolving relationship.
“The Girl in the Green Dress” has a very poignant social commentary, with strong feminist themes. As Ann and Page grow closer, it’s clear that their friendship isn’t purely platonic. Rather, there’s a budding sexual tension that culminates in an unforeseen finale. The societal commentary digs deeply into the culture of the 50’s, and there’s a thematic hint of “Pleasantville.”
However, despite sharing undertones with films like “Pleasantville” and “The Stepford Wives,” “The Girl in the Green Dress” is a wholly fresh take on feminism. The execution is unique, with narrative and dance segments meshing. Behind the short film is a talented trio of women, director Johanna Goldstein and writers/stars Sara Fletcher and Leah McKendrick, and it’s not surprising their message resonates so strongly. “The Girl in the Green Dress” ultimately delivers a very poignant, and relevant commentary on sexuality, gender, society as a whole. A recent article by film critic and pop culture aficionado Craig D. Lindsey in The News and Observer chronicled sexism in the film industry. It wasn’t until 2015 that same-sex marriages was legalized in the United States. Despite the passage of time, society hasn’t progressed as much as we’d like to believe. “The Girl in the Green Dress” offers a lovely, and heartbreaking, cultural critique, and in doing so reflects present day society.