Nim's Island (Jennifer Flackett, Mark Levin)
Despite a very clichéd ending, Nim’s Island proves to be, for the most part, a positive representation of the girl adventure film. Abigail Breslin’s Nim is a fun, frolicking, and fierce little gal who cannot only save her island from tourists and help her father with his lab experiments, but can also connect to another slightly ambiguous older woman, namely Jodie Foster’s Alex Rover - a character I’m guessing is supposed to emulate J.K. Rowling.
Foster’s Rover has given her own name to the male main character in a series of adventure books she created, which gives the film a wonderful duality in two ways - one, Foster’s Rover suffers from agoraphobia and uses the male character to explore the world for her. Two, the film uses that misogynistic overtone for its feminist advantage - the male character Alex Rover springs to life from the real Alex Rover’s imagination and encourages her to leave the household and take care of her own life. One could also say that Nim’s Island is the watered-down, Hollywood version of Gilliam’s Tideland in that it depicts a little girl thrown into a situation beyond her supposed mental years and somehow (notice the sarcasm) manages to thrive in that environment.
It should also be noted that Nim’s Island is one of the few female-driven films I’ve seen this year that has its production roots deeply embedded in female filmmakers. It’s co-directed by a woman, produced by a woman, the book it’s based upon is written by a woman, and two of the four screenwriters are women. Though the films of Hayao Miyazaki still own my heart as far as girl adventure films go, I’m happy to say that Nim’s Island provides a positive, mostly empowering outlet for girls of all ages.