I have soooooo many thoughts about this film. It is not an easy film to watch, by any means. But it is beautiful and thought-provoking. After watching it, I started it again, re-watching the many different scenes that touched me, often sitting in my chair with it paused trying to sort out my thoughts. Most of which were about how this movie set in the future felt like an indictment of our present. My high school English teacher Mrs. Knorr always told us "there is more truth in fiction." She was right.
At its most basic level, this film is about choices. In nearly every scene we see someone making a choice of one kind of another. The little choices we make on a daily basis and those that set the course of our lives, and the lives of others.
In this future, as it is in our own present, it is how one goes about making these choices that defines their character. But as it is in our time, this is more an illusion of choice than anything else. Available options are often limited and far outside one's ability to influence. And in many cases, the only choice is no choice at all, with the only options to either accept something terrible or suffer the consequences. While it is true our choices may define us, it is our options that set the parameters of our lives.
The set up for this film is like a mash-up of the worst parts of both Brazil and The Handmaid's Tale. We have an overpopulated future where the elite are painfully oblivious to the suffering of the general public, carrying on with their luncheons and school events and reaffirming their role as the privileged class, while resistance fighters attack public targets, and a religiously motivated social movement directs the fate of women as a kind of backlash for the gains they'd made in the previous century.
This future is a society where there are few jobs to be had, where a woman's appearance is key to her success, and where youth is her main selling point. Once she reaches a certain age, 40 let's say, she is no longer employable. A world where a woman would act in a way that is against her best interest simply to have a place to exist. And where, once that place is threatened, she would willingly sacrifice anything and everything she has to ensure a place for her daughter. A world where a secure life is limited to the elite, and one does whatever is advantageous to ensure success.