I understand why it is so easy to call this movie a feminine masterpiece. Let's just look at few elements of the movie.
Let's point out the most obvious point of Mad Max: Fury Road — the main character is a woman and she is not sexualized.
There is no leading male character — there is a male who supports the real hero, the leading lady. But I’m quite sure that most men’s sense of their own masculinity isn’t so fragile that it can't put up with a single movie where the main character is a woman. I love this movie — it is beautifully shot, it's fast paced, it's centre focused. But...
I'll be honest. The plot of Fury Road involved five women escaping from Immortan Joe's harem and the film is rated R — doesn't sound promising for hopeful feminists. Once again it sounded like a big case of, "We will abuse women on screen for your entertainment." But in reality, it's a story about escaping sexual slavery with zero sex in it. The audience meets the wives only after they have escaped. The concept itself, being a prized possession of such a man, being locked up in cages only to fulfill breeding and sexual desires of their "owner" is horrific enough and doesn't have to be spelt out, therefore it is left to viewer's imagination.
I mean, how annoying is it watching, for example, a post-apocalyptic movie where all men are covered in mud, but all women are still catwalk ready? In the context of Mad Max, it makes sense since the wives are beloved pets of their master and have never been exposed to manual labour. The fact that the wives have been dressed in impractical revealing bikinis also make sense since they are seen as things to take sexual pleasure in, even though it really depends on the culture. Why would Immortan Joe want others to look at his wives? Wouldn't it make sense to cover them up?
Mad Max: Fury Road makes it clear that the villains are sexist.
What it also shows is that they are sexist second-hand, through the world, they see around them. There is no narration. No voice over. The perfect case of "Show don't tell" rule. There is the Mother's Milk that sustains the elite instead of water. There's an entire religion based around gasoline and cars. There's a matriarchy surviving in the wastes. While a movie in itself is a call to dismantle the patriarchy.
Max hands Furiosa his rifle.
She is a better shot AND she uses his shoulder to steady her rifle.
The wives cut off their iron chastity the belts, symbolising getting free from the male-ruled world.
Matriarchal Motorcycle Gang
The entire subplot involving the gang of matriarchal older women on motorcycles whose mantra is "One man, one bullet."
I understand why it is so easy to call this movie a feminine masterpiece. In the notoriously male-dominated Hollywood, Mad Mad: Fury Road stands out for trying. Declaring this film a feminist masterpiece will mean declaring the new standard for a feminist movie. It is a great film, but not a feminist masterpiece.
A feminist masterpiece would not have models hosing each other down like a silly 90s movie. A feminist masterpiece would understand that the shape of a woman that's been chosen to be a mother would be different.
A feminist masterpiece would be Furiosa’s story. It’s not.
It’s Max’s story. He’s haunted by the women and girls he failed to save. And at the end, he simply walks away. Mad Max: Fury Road is many things. It is a great piece of cinematography. It is a great attempt at changing common Hollywood film laws.