The Homey, Polyamorous Pleasures of Professor Marston and the Wonder Women
Starring (from left), Rebecca Hall, Luke Evans and Bella Heathcote, Professor Marston and the Wonder Women shows how a revolutionary couple transform into a committed, polyamorous threesome.
Writer/director Angela Robinson’s Professor Marston and the Wonder Women is achingly normal, in a good way. Robinson has proven herself capable of melding her sincere and often endearingly campy sensibilities to any cinematic style — spy spoofs (D.E.B.S.), Disney family flicks (Herbie: Fully Loaded), comic-dramas (The L Word), sexy vampire melodramas (True Blood) — but her choice to play safe with this romance is inspired. Professor Marston is the true story of a revolutionary couple that would become a committed, polyamorous threesome that would then go on to invent the lie detector together before creating the Wonder Woman comic from their shared interest in bondage. That Robinson manages to present these convention-flouting characters in entirely conventional terms while still telling their story faithfully from beginning to end — spanning decades — just as anyone might do with a regular old heteronormative romance … I have to say “wow.” Even your prudish grandparents might find themselves cheering on this crew.
Dr. William Moulton Marston (Luke Evans) gets caught by his wife and scientific partner Elizabeth (Rebecca Hall) making goo-goo eyes at his bright psychology student Olive Byrne (Bella Heathcote). This suggests the familiar scenario of a creepy older man having an affair with his much younger student, with a jealous and bitter wife left in tow, but when Olive becomes the pair’s graduate assistant, Robinson maneuvers the characters into a dynamic love triangle with full equality at all three points. Their priority, at first, is developing and perfecting a lie-detecting machine, which leads to pulse-raising moments of intimacy as everyone takes a turn probing the others for their desires and weaknesses — but never with malicious intent. In fact, the scenes of them testing out the proto-polygraph prove the sweetest and sexiest of the bunch. It’s like the antithesis to 50 Shades, where honesty and vulnerability are the dangerous turn-ons.