G.I. Jane

USA - 1997

Movie Review By Andrea Chase

It's not fair to start a review of "G.I. Jane" this way, but it IS the question on everyone's lips and so I bow to public demand. Demi Moore's career is safe for at least one more flick, unless it's a misstep like "Striptease," in which case all bets are off.

Moore is an actress given to bouts of unflinching intensity, no matter what the genre, but here, she's found an appropriate vehicle for it. With flinty eyes and no-nonsense chin, she plays a naval intelligence officer stuck in the slow track because her gender prevents her from being assigned to active duty. She quietly fumes until she's chosen as a test case for making the military gender-blind, but not because of her qualifications, but because of her cover girl potential if she succeeds. An irony because the savvy politician making this decision is a woman. The gender politics here are a murky business. Motives are rarely what you'd suspect as we discover just who is and who isn't out to thwart the intrepid Demi.

She becomes a candidate for the elite Navy SEALS and to insure that her success won't be meaningless, she demands, and gets, absolutely equal treatment. Same standards, same quarters. When she storms the men's barracks, the most telling and interesting part of their negative reaction is terror at sharing sleeping space with her box of tampons. Hygiene aside, she goes on to develop a complex relationship with her CO, who is either her best friend or her worst nightmare. The ambiguity of that relationship, and the questions it raises, is what makes "G.I. Jane" compelling.

As is Ridely Scott's visual artistry as he follows Moore through a program designed to weed out anyone less than perfect, physically or mentally. Scott captures how the singular determination to endure anything in order to be considered the best is both heroic and borderline psychotic.

"G.I. Jane," alas, does not know when to quit. Its job was done once Moore demonstrated that eggs are as valid a measure of toughness as the male equivalent. Take my advice, skip the film's overseas field trip and head for the door when Moore says, "Nice to see you again, too."

© 1997 Andrea Chase Air Date: 8/20/97

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