Flying is out on DVD this month, and lucky feministphilosophers got a screener for reviewing. When this was a feature at Sundance, the buzz was that it was about “gender issues,” but it’s both more and less than that. Flying is Jennifer Fox’s episodic autobiographical documentary about her own search for what it means to be a woman, and to be happy, two fundamental philosophical questions treated deeply at somes times, trivially at others, with a good dose of humor lightening up the self-indulgence. If that’s the way you’d describe conversations with girlfriends over a bottle of wine, it’s no coincidence. Such chats with her friends in multiple countries are half the film.
In an interview Jennifer Fox said she was a “typical modern woman trying to make sense of my life by talking to other women,” and although she was way off the mark with regard to how typical she is, the project of talking to other women to make more sense out of life is both instantly relatable and innovative. The six-episode series begins with what Fox calls her personal crisis: entering her forties, lacking the milestones of other women – marriage, kids, long-term relationship – and touched off, in the first episode, at the moment she calls her married lover and gets his wife on the phone (which is interesting, but I’m just saying, not a universal experience).
Fox embarks on the project of interviewing the women she knows, and at times, passing the camera to them to interview her, in a collaborative effort to make sense of how to be women, and to be happy, which are not always the same things. The series has been compared to Sex and the City (oh, please), to soap operas, to Annie Hall, etc., but in the spirit of feministphilosophers, I reject the comparisons. This show is its own animal, going to the source to ask real women around the world about their experiences with sex, abortion, birth control, divorce, abuse, love, motherhood, marriage, and friendship. Philosophers will smile sympathetically when I say Fox suffers from Nussbaum syndrome, i.e., this worthwhile project could still use more editing and goes longer than it needs, but at least in a series, each episode gets to end with a cliffhanger! Excellent. Worth a viewing, and for another week, $3 from each DVD sale will benefit the organization, Our Bodies, Ourselves.