‘Blade Runner 2049’ director responds to criticism of the film’s female characters

Denis Villeneuve said he was "very sensitive to how I portray women in movies"

Blade Runner 2049 director Denis Villeneuve has responded to criticism of the new film’s portrayal of its female characters.

Villeneuve’s much-anticipated sequel to the 1982 film Blade Runner received plenty of acclaim upon its release, but the movie was subject to complaints from some critics who criticised its portrayal of women – with The Guardian in particular observing that Mackenzie Davis plays a “sex worker who is literally used as a puppet.”

Villeneuve has addressed the criticism in a new interview, with the director arguing that the portrayal of women in Blade Runner 2049 mirrors a world which “is not kind on women”.

“I am very sensitive to how I portray women in movies,” Villeneuve told Vanity Fair. “This is my ninth feature film and six of them have women in the lead role. The first Blade Runner was quite rough on the women; something about the film noir aesthetic. But I tried to bring depth to all the characters. For Joi, the holographic character, you see how she evolves. It’s interesting, I think.

“What is cinema?” Villeneuve added. “Cinema is a mirror on society. Blade Runner is not about tomorrow; it’s about today. And I’m sorry, but the world is not kind on women.

“There’s a sense in American cinema: you want to portray an ideal world,” he continued. “You want to portray a utopia. That’s good—dreams for a better world, to advocate for something better, yes. But if you look at my movies, they are exploring today’s shadows.

“The first Blade Runner is the biggest dystopian statement of the last half century. I did the follow-up to that, so yes, it’s a dystopian vision of today. Which magnifies all the faults. That’s what I’ll say about that.”

Earlier this month, Villeneuve revealed his reasons for having wanted to cast David Bowie in Blade Runner 2049 before he died.