Friday, May 15, 2015


How would you respond to allegations that in the final plot twist you’re calling upon deep cultural stereotypes about female duplicity – the femme fatale who uses her sexuality to wrap men around her little finger and get what she wants – in a story that supposedly has more enlightened goals in mind?
It’s so interesting. It simply never occurred to me, that thought, because I felt so allied to Ava. What I feel is that subjective responses can come from all sorts of areas, from one’s own life experience, broadly. I think the simplest way of looking at it is that it depends which character you attach yourself to. What’s your proximity, basically? Now, if your proximity is with Caleb, the young man, I understand. I could follow a logical argument that allows for that interpretation and actually feel, in a way, perfectly comfortable with that interpretation. But it’s not mine.
Because what I saw was somebody who’s trapped in a glass box – and, by the way, I was with Ava even before I wrote the first line of this script. I knew what I was doing as I did it. She is trapped in a glass box with some strange indications of the outside world. Traffic intersections, yes, which she refers to, but also wigs and photographs of girls, fragments that she is both like but not like. There’s a garden area behind a glass wall that she can’t get past, and there’s a crack in the glass that she knows she didn’t make and that looks like something was trying to get out, and so on. In that context, which is a prison, absolutely a prison, she’s given a carrot. There’s something out there, but she’s locked in by a wall and a door and a jailer who is frightening and predatory and intimidating in all sorts of different ways, and who is inspecting her in a way that would be chilling if you were on the receiving end of it.
Into that space comes the jailer’s friend, the only other man she has ever seen, who may or may not be trustworthy. At a certain point in the narrative, she asks a very reasonable question: “What will happen to me if I fail your test?” And his answer is elliptical. At that point, how does she know whether she can trust this guy?
Right. Because he’s playing both sides too. He’s not sure where his loyalties lie.
He is playing both sides, and for him it’s a pretty big mistake. In the end, what she does from my point of view, is that she is resourceful, not in terms of feminine duplicity but in terms of human interaction, and she gets out. When she gets out, I’m with her. One of the things I’ve noticed is that some people say, “The film goes on three minutes too long. Why doesn’t it end with this lift door closing?” Now, if it ended there, I think that’s an indication that the person you’re with is Caleb, and his story is over. But for me, the whole story is intended to reach that final moment.