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A Girl and a Gun: Film Review

A Girl and a Gun - H 2013

The Bottom Line

Gun doc's aim is scattershot

Opens:

Friday, July 5 (First Run Features)

Director:

Cathryne Czubek

Cathryne Czubek looks at the many things weapons mean to women.

Cathryne Czubek meets a wide variety of gun-owning women in her debut doc A Girl and a Gun, most of whom don't fit the two or three stereotypes outsiders likely expect. Some of the more intriguing interviewees here will challenge conventional wisdom; a couple have deeply affecting personal stories to tell. But in the end, the film fails to make much of what it has gathered, providing color while doing little to advance our understanding of America's relationship with firearms.

With a title playing off the famous Godard quote ("all you need to make a movie is …"), the doc naturally touches on Hollywood's visions of vengeful housewives and leather-clad assassins. But media analysis is a slim part of this film, which prefers real women across the U.S. From city dwellers motivated by self defense to hunters and sport-shooters like a 19-year-old skeet-shooting champion, the film introduces us to so many women that only a few are allowed to stand out.

The film sometimes seems torn between pointing out the silliness of a deluge of pink firearms, criticizing an industry that has used fear to sell women guns for decades, and celebrating the fact that women are an increasingly powerful force in the marketplace. But it is less ambivalent about the customers themselves: Though they may sometimes coo about a weapon's beauty or its sublimated erotic power, no one here is characterized as nutty.

We meet a new mother who, just days before being interviewed, had to shoot and kill a male intruder who bashed in the door to her trailer; another, previously terrified of pistols, buys one after a bodybuilder ex-boyfriend broke into her home. Surprisingly, only two speakers have much to say against guns: an activist whose daughter was wounded by a stray bullet, and a convicted murderer who admits she wouldn't have killed her girlfriend if pulling the trigger hadn't been so easy.

Academics offer some interesting but too-brief historical notes, tracing a line from Annie Oakley to an era of '60s and '70s politics in which feminists were divided in their attitudes toward guns. Current debates about the legal right to bear arms are addressed only indirectly, giving the doc little value in that discussion.

Director/director of photography: Cathryne Czubek

Screenwriters: Cathryne Czubek, Amanda Hughes

Producers: Cathryne Czubek, Jessica Wolfson

Executive producer: Julide Tanriverdi

Music: Andrew Hollander

Editor: Amanda Hughes

No rating, 75 minutes