Tecmerin. Journal of Audiovisual Essays

Issue 12 – 2023 (2)

Women on the Verge of Financial Crisis

Tomer Nechushtan (Tel Aviv University)

How to cite this article: Nechushtan, Tomer (2023). Women on the Verge of Financial Crisis. Tecmerin. Journal of Audiovisual Essays, 12, 2023(2). ISSN: 2659-4269

This video is made up of various scenes from the films Gold Diggers of 1933 (LeRoy 1933), Bande de Filles (Girlhood) (Sciamma, 2014), Hustlers (Scafaria, 2019) and Birds of Prey (Yan, 2020). While this collection comprises varying generic categories, their titles already reveal their perhaps most important characteristic – a collective of young women as the film’s subject. Moving past the titles we find that these groups of women are brought together by a lack of financial security, some of them tied directly or hinting at national or global financial and social crises. 

         Crime features prominently in all four films in various forms such as petty theft or elaborate cons. In the traditional group-crime films, male participants must remain independent of each other emotionally, as these films are often about the recuperation of masculinity in its changing forms (Studlar, 2018). In opposition, the films in this video elevate the bonds between the young women and present them as the ultimate (though unspoken) value of their criminal operations. As I watched these films it became clearer to me that in addition to the narrative similarities, these films sparked similar viewing experiences. Created as part of Ariel Avissar’s videography workshop at Tel Aviv University, the video explores the ways in which these films’ common theme was being emphasized, particularly by the excessive, extra-narrative moments. 

         Linda Williams (1991) has taught us to look out for the ways in which excesses form modes or even genres in film. In the act of editing, I can identify and reorganize these common excesses outside and without the linear narratives and particular screenplays in order to emphasize how these moments define the way the films are experienced. Whole sequences of young women sleeping together tell us much about the films’ concerns with security on both physical and emotional levels while allowing us as viewers to relax and indulge in this cinematic atmosphere where, like the characters, we are not in a hurry to get anywhere and are willing to enjoy the mere presence of other women. 

         Presenting the audiences with experiences that make up for a lived social lack is a defining element in classical Hollywood musical sequences, according to Richard Dyer (2005). Dyer defines the musical utopia in the musical number as made up of excessive energy, abundance, intensity, transparency, and community. While it is not surprising that we find dance numbers in the obviously musical Gold Diggers of 1933 (actually one of the films used by Dyer to define this mode) and the intentionally musical Hustlers (Nolfi, 2020), it is now easier to understand how and why we encounter these singing and dancing moments in Birds of Prey and Bande de filles. Viewing dance not only bestows us with utopian sensibilities but is often experienced simultaneously as an identification with the dancing body, and an acknowledgment of our own bodily subjectivity (Reason & Reynolds, 2010). 

         Outside the dance sequences, we are often confronted with these five markers of utopia in sequences of masquerading. All four films include moments of trying on looks and garments which may all have practical narrative explanations but also function as acts of group bonding. While the masquerade itself is often tied to an act of stealing or conspiring in the film, the moment of trying on clothes is presented as a fully transparent acknowledgement of womanhood as a masquerade (Doane, 1982).

         Neither film remains fully committed to its utopian visions of sisterhood, as they each present cinematically similar scenes of organized patriarchal exploitation and violence, which are then countered with cinematically resounding sequences of revenge and petty crimes. Even less utopian are those scenes that present mistrust and the possibility of betrayal within the group. The films suggest that these utopian sensibilities are not excessive moments of relief but rather necessities for survival in difficult circumstances. 

As a scholar and teacher of popular film histories, I am often on the lookout for the ways in which the strategies of classic Hollywood manifest themselves in recent films, often presenting themselves as a novelty. In combining these films together, I hope to amplify the transhistorical and transcultural aspects of these films and provide a context for viewing both the archives of the past and the cinema of the future.  

In making this video I attempted to remain faithful to the style of the films, which is defined by the excess of filmed bodies, material objects, editing cuts, and information. The rhythm and composition of the mise-en-scène lead the progression of the video. The sequences alternate between the four films, leaving room to imagine the insertion of other existing films or those yet to be made. This winds up creating a general accumulative effect, if not defining a certain genre, at least suggesting “a band of films”.



  • Dyer, R. (2005). Only Entertainment. Routledge.
  • Doane, M. A.  (1982). Film and the Masquerade: Theorising the Female Spectator. Screen (23.3-4), 74-88.
  • Nolfi, J. (2020) Lorene Scafaria says she’s trying to adapt Hustlers as Broadway musical. Entertainment Weekly. https://ew.com/golden-globes/2020/01/06/lorene-scafaria-hustlers-broadway-musical/. Accessed: Oct. 1st, 2021.
  • Reason, M. & Reynolds D. (2010). Kinesthesia, Empathy, and Related Pleasures An Inquiry Into Audience Experiences of Watching Dance. Dance Research Journal 42 (2), 49-75.
  • Studlar, G. (2018). Men Women and the Heist Film. The Best Laid Plans: Interrogating the Heist Film. Wayne State University Press.
  • Williams, L. (1991). Film Bodies: Gender, Genre, and Excess. Film Quarterly (44.4), 2-13.


  • Gold Diggers of 1933 (Mervyn LeRoy, 1933)
  • Bande de Filles (Girlhood) (Céline Sciamma, 2014)
  • Hustlers (Lorene Scafaria, 2019) 
  • Birds of Prey (Cathy Yan, 2020)

Tecmerin. Journal of Audiovisual Essays
ISSN: 2659-4269
© Tecmerin Research Group
Universidad Carlos III de Madrid