Leslye Headland was flabbergasted. John Waters raised his hand during the Q&A after the screening of her feature debut at the Provincetown Film Festival last June. After asking a question about the film's rating, the master of cinematic transgression proclaimed her film, "absolutely brilliant."
>> REVIEW: Bachelorette <<
And so it is. Headland joins fellow female filmmakers Julie Delpy, Sarah Polley, Lena Dunham, and others in a new wave of women directing romantic comedies that subvert female stereotypes and present realistic characters who are flawed, believable, and funny. Based on Headland's 2008 play of the same name, Bachelorette was written well before the release of Bridesmaids, to which it will inevitably be compared. Both involve women whose discontents explode when one of their friends is about to get married. In Headland's version, three high school friends (played by the terrific Kirsten Dunst, Isla Fisher, and Lizzy Caplan) run amok the night before another classmate's nuptials. It's not pretty. As Headland recalled during our conversation in P-town, her movie came close to being rated NC-17.
IT MUST HAVE BEEN EXCITING TO GET A THUMBS UP FROM JOHN WATERS LAST NIGHT. Oh my god! First of all, I didn't expect him to be there. So I freaked out. Then he asked me that question about the MPAA. Because even while I was writing the screenplay I was wondering if this was going to be an R, or if some of it would merit an NC-17. There's no nudity and there's no violence, but maybe just for ideological reasons. I think it's funny that we live in a country that says you can believe in anything you want, but then gets really angry when a bunch of women talk about blow jobs.
AND IT CONTAINS THE "A" WORD — ABORTION. I WAS WORRIED ABOUT THAT, LIKE, IS THE MPAA GOING TO BE PISSED OFF? But a lot of women under 30 have had abortions. It's just not talked about in a large film like this one. I'm just interested in morality. I just like asking, "What's bad? What's good? And why is it okay for certain characters to behave one way and other characters not to?" Anyway, the film finally got an R, but I was surprised. A hard R. A super hard R, guys!
THIS IS ADAPTED FROM A PLAY IN A CYCLE ABOUT THE SEVEN DEADLY SINS. WHICH SIN IS THIS? I wrote a series of plays called "The Seven Deadly Plays," and this was the sin of gluttony. The idea was that I'd start out writing about what would be considered to be a classic manifestation of that particular sin, in this case, someone being overweight [the bride to be, played in the film by Rebel Wilson], and then contrast it with something sneakier. The characters of Regan, Katie, and Gena are these thin, pretty, at first seemingly okay women, and then they unravel, not just with drugs but with materialism, sexual stuff. Not that there's anything wrong with being a sexual woman, obviously.
SPEAKING OF RAUNCHY FEMALE CHARACTERS, HOW DID YOU FEEL WHEN BRIDESMAIDS CAME OUT LAST YEAR? When I saw it I was like, "Oh no!"