M.F.A. is a very intense thriller and Francesca Eastwood is perfect in this role. This is part psychological thriller while being a very bloody and visceral one.
The story of M.F.A. is character driven, since we’re following Noelle (Francesca Eastwood) going through a terrible tragedy. After coming to terms with the fact that others have experinced the same – or even worse – she tries to take matters into her own hands.
Initially, she simply wants her rapist to acknowledge what he did and apologize for it. Such a naive and simple request, which he clearly doesn’t feel is necesarry. The turn of events following this request are purely accidental, but ignites something in Noelle.
You can watch the trailer for M.F.A. right here or continue reading our review below.
Crime never pays?
Many of the perfect elements in M.F.A. are lines that hold so much more weight than what is actually said. For example, once the hunt for the vigilante [Noelle killing accused rapists] begins, the police are quick to point out that crime never pays.
And while the audience will probably be thinking; Well, in the case of these rapists it did. We have Noelle speaking our mind.
Because in this particular movie, we know for a fact that the accused rapists are actual rapists. So there’s no “Did he or didn’t he?”. We know that the men hunted down by Noelle are rapists.
And yes, of course, we also witness men treat women with kindness and respect. This is definitely a nuanced view in that sense. And obviously, you can’t just go around killing people simply because the justice system doesn’t work.
Oh, and another very important element is the role of women. M.F.A. also shines a huge spotlight on women enabling rapists to avoid punishment. Whether it’s to maintain the reputation of a college or because they blame the victim.
So not all men are bad and all women good. Far from it. Just like in real life!
Francesca Eastwood is perfectly cast
Yes, I know, I’ve already mentioned that Francesca Eastwood is perfect in this movie. But what I mean to say is that the casting of Francesca Eastwood is spot-on. The character of Noelle could easily have been a whiny or unbelievable one. But not with Eastwood in the driving seat.
Obviously, Noelle goes too far, but this could very easily (and appropriately) be explained as a result of PTSD. And the entire movie takes place within a relatively short timespan, which is another reason it works. It’s not like she’s a vigilante operating all over the US for years.
For one, she’s not being careful enough and she is acting out to regain her own power and control. Not exactly a combination that makes for a career criminal. Still, if Francesa Eastwood had been given a character with this much nerve in The Vault, it would’ve been a huge bonus for that movie as well.
A story of women by women
M.F.A. was directed by a woman and the screenplay is by a woman as well. This is no doubt a huge reason why it resonates so well with its audience. Having won the audience award at Jameson Cinefest in 2017 is one clear proof of this.
Natalia Leite is the director and someone who has already done another intense and dark movie about the choices women make in Bare from 2015. Natalia Leite was nominated for a “Gamechanger Award” and the “Grand Jury Award” at SXSW in 2017. The SXSW Film Festival was also the world premiere of the movie.
The screenplay for M.F.A. was written by Leah McKendrick, who also has the biggest supporting role in the movie. She plays the character of Skye, who is Noelle’s best friend. If you’ve watched the TV series How to Survive the Zombie Apocalypse you may recognize her from that.
M.F.A. is available on DVD and Blu-ray along with Digital HD from Amazon Video and iTunes now.
Director: Natalia Leite
Writer: Leah McKendrick
Cast: Francesca Eastwood, Leah McKendrick, Clifton Collins Jr., Peter Vack
An art student is sexually assaulted at a party. After struggling to receive any support from her college to find justice and cope with her trauma, she impulsively confronts her attacker – a decision that has deadly repercussions. As she tracks down fellow rape survivors, an unlikely vigilante is born.