'Stuntwomen: The Untold Hollywood Story' Review
“Stuntwomen: The Untold Hollywood Story” is a rare documentary that’s based on a book (which Mollie Gregory wrote in 2015.) Yes, reading about the history of female stunt performers may be interesting and informative. But this story needed to be told in a film.
And it is the content — interviews and archival clips — that’s the strength of this doc. We get fascinating insights from legends in the field (including Lynda Carter’s “Wonder Woman” stunt double Jeannie Epper) and the contemporaries (such as the Moneymaker sisters). These women regularly — and fearlessly — risked their lives for our entertainment.
Unfortunately, as a movie, “Stuntwomen” lacks polish. Director April Wright jams so much into the brief 84-minute runtime that there’s little room to take a breath. The interview subjects discuss specific stunts, training, working with A-list actors, the dangers, the tragedies and the sexism that comes with the profession.
All are real and valid topics. But the amount of attention given to each varies wildly. And there’s not a natural flow or connection from one to the next. Some of the editing is tight, while other scenes go on for far too long.
And there’s also a clumsy narrator issue. “Fast and the Furious” star Michelle Rodriguez provides the opening narration, which works. A short time later she joins some stuntwomen and TCM host Ben Mankewicz on camera for a discussion of the history of female stunt performers. Then Rodriguez completely disappears, only to return mid-film (again on-camera) in a brief section with her “F&F” stuntwomen. Then she’s gone for good. It’s the oddest use of a narrator in any doc I can recall.
This film also could have used more Hollywood action heavyweights — female and male (Charlize Theron, Scarlett Johansson, Keanu Reeves, The Rock) to speak about the importance of stuntwomen. The biggest-name contributor (outside of Rodriquez) is “Ghostbusters” director Paul Feig.
But, in the end, it’s all about the stuntwomen. Their work — and this doc — is worthy of your attention.