Wingwomen: The Netflix Heist Flick Is Inspired by a Graphic Novel

Netflix’s French action-comedy film ‘Wingwomen,’ brings a fun crime story centering around female robbers and their exciting lives full of brand new thrills around every corner. Carole and Alex, skilled thieves perpetually in demand by their employer, are best friends and literal partners in crime. However, as they embark on their newest adventure, with new recruit Sam, a talented racer and subsequent ideal getaway driver, the trio faces an unlikely situation. Yet, though they may wish for a way out of their dangerous lives, their employer, The Godmother, remains hellbent on ensuring otherwise.

The film charts a classic heist story with compelling characters and dynamics at its center that ensure a fun ride for the viewers. As such, given the nature of stories about elite criminals, fans may be wondering if this film mines inspiration from any source, either based on reality or otherwise.

La Grande Odalisque Graphic Novels

‘Wingwomen’ is not based on a true story and is instead inspired by Bastien Vivès, Florent Ruppert, and Jérôme Mulot’s graphic novels, ‘La Grande Odalisque.’ The story was adapted from the comic book pages and to the screen by screenplay writers Cédric Anger and Christophe Deslandes, alongside Mélanie Laurent, the leading actress who also co-wrote and directed the film. As such, ‘Wingwomen’ is a work of fiction credited to the imagination of the numerous people involved in its making.

For the most part, the film remains authentic to its source material, focusing on the fun-loving, liberated female characters and their adventures. Despite its overall comedic and laid-back atmosphere, the story still manages to portray a glaring feminist theme by affording its characters to break out of gender-based molds and allowing them a certain narrative freedom and agency.

Furthermore, the story carves out an entertaining and refreshing space within the genre through its relaxed depiction of women within morally ambiguous and action-heavy storylines. The film carries over this element of the graphic novel while modernizing and tinkering with certain aspects. Thus, the characters feel realistic and relatable, with viewers finding a form of escapism in Carole, Alex, and Sam’s guns-blazing escapades that remain in line with their comic-book counterparts.

Defying Genre Conventions

‘Wingwomen’ presents a relatively straightforward story about art heists interspersed with montages of the French beachside and emotional breakthroughs. While such a narrative may appear commonplace and in line with the general idea of a heist flick, this film strives to achieve something more through its focus on female representation and empowerment. Director Laurent, who helms the film through her direction and writing, first came up with its idea after coming off the heels of her 2021 film, ‘The Mad Women’s Ball.’

While the two films are drastically different from each other both in subject matter and genre, with the latter being a thriller period piece, they share their exploration of women’s residence within society. “I wanted to continue filming women, and thought I should make a film that captures our times,” said the filmmaker in a conversation about ‘Wingwomen’ with Variety.

Although female characters have gained more prominence in action movies lately, ‘Wingwomen’ offers a slightly different take on the same. For instance, director Laurent noticed a pattern with women in action, wherein they were often depicted as intimidating with little room for humor. Therefore, she wanted to turn the idea on its head and create characters that could achieve both. Furthermore, she still wanted to explore certain experiences and issues that remain pertinent to women’s lives.

“I tried to debunk stereotypes about strong women,” Laurent said. “In certain countries like ours, women can be powerful, financially independent, they have fun, they can live together, and be free. But are these women finding love easily? Not really, because as they’re becoming more self-sufficient and demanding, men can feel out of place.”

Likewise, the romantic subplot within the film, allocated to Alex’s character, delves into the same issue. Consequently, the narrative assigns greater significance to the ties and relationships between the female characters, particularly Alex and Carole, showcasing a healthy instance of female friendships and collaborations. Through the same, the film establishes a sense of relatability despite not having a basis in real-life people or events.

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