Wonder Woman’s like a bus, you wait years for her turn up on a cinema screen and then – within a year – she appears four times. To be fair, this third outing for the character comes in the unlikely form of her creator’s biopic, but those stars and stripes can be felt throughout this heartfelt and surprisingly touching romantic drama to no end.
A story that’s featured in many a pub quiz over the decades, Wonder Woman was created by the inventor of the lie detector, William Moulden Marston, who – in the 1930s – enters into a polyamorous relationship with his wife Elizabeth and grad student Olive Byrne. The perception of their relationship however soon forces the trio into self-imposed exile, hiding away in the suburbs away from the world of academia, and it’s in this infuriating situation that Marston takes it upon himself to try and extol his values to an unsuspecting audience through the creation of the iconic Amazonian – herself an amalgamation of the two women who make his world.
Though, on paper, Professor Marston screams of having the serious potential to nosedive into quite sleazy terrain, writer-director Angela Robinson quickly establishes a startlingly sympathetic baseline with which to carry her audience through this unconventional author tale. Luke Evans, Rebecca Hall, and Bella Heathcote each bring ample heart and soul to their performances – with Hall arguably managing the toughest feat in the contradictorily brittle Elizabeth – and with lavish visuals by Bryce Fortner making outright spectacle of its big character moments, there’s a powerful drama here that tramples the likes of, for instance, the recent Goodbye Christopher Robin in the author biopic stakes.
There are some humourous nods here and there to what fans will come to know as integral parts of the Wonder Woman mythos (Olive, for example, just happens to sport a pair of familiar bracelets), and the persecution of the Marston/Byrne household rings oddly poignant in a modern context. If there’s a complaint to be had, it’s that the decision to close the picture with an illustration of the real Marstons and Byrne inadvertently cheapens the more touching moments of the story, yet Professor Marston and the Wonder Women will nevertheless send you away with a sense of optimism and having been utterly captivated by its characters.
Professor Marston and the Wonder Women is in cinemas nationwide from Friday, November 10th; rated 15. Check out the trailer below.