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  • Writer's pictureIsabelle Call

The Immaculate Sydney Sweeney says "Fuck You" to the Patriarchy and Republican Policy in New Movie

Over the weekend a friend and I got some afternoon drinks, talked about how shitty men can be, and headed over to the theatre for a matinee viewing of Sydney Sweeney’s Immaculate.

We sat down, slightly buzzed and chatting, waiting for the trailers to end, and I couldn’t help but think, “how will they objectify Sydney Sweeney this time?”. I knew that she had personally lobbied for this film to get made and nearly single handedly saw it all the way to theatrical release. I knew that she had done this to break away from the type casting she had fallen into and because she wanted to star in a horror movie. She was passionate about the script and what it stood for, and I admired that about her. But Hollywood has a funny way of taking what could be the next great feminist film of our generation (*cough* I’m looking at you Don’t Worry Darling), and turning it into another male fantasy about sexy women trying to escape the power of men. 

I’ll admit, I was fully ready to be disappointed by this movie. And I’m happy to say, boy was I wrong. Sydney Sweeney has done what big screen horror has longed to see, subverted the genre's obsession with glorifying female pain and says fuck you to the patriarchy.

Immaculate Sydney Sweeney  "This is not God's Work"

The story follows Cecilia (Sydney Sweeney), a young nun from America sent to live in an Italian convent after hers has dissolved. Originally feeling blessed to be there, Cecilia quickly learns that the convent is not what it seems when she falls pregnant and fellow nun, Isabelle (Giulia Heathfield Di Renzi), commits a gruesome suicide by jumping from the roof after an attempt on Cecilia’s life. The story quickly takes a turn for the worse and Cecilia is faced with the realisation that she has become an involuntary surrogate Mother Mary.

As the film progresses the visuals begin to tell a story all of their own, a feminist tale of anti-forced birth magnificence. Our new Mother Mary is not the proud virgin mother, but a scared and isolated young girl, shown with tears falling from her fearful doe eyes. She has become a deer, trapped with nowhere to go. As we look on at the pain of this poor girl who has lost everything, the film forces viewers to re-evaluate the image of the young mother that the church has painted in their minds. It forces us to recognize that Mary was more than likely just a scared young girl who no one cared for until they gained knowledge of the man growing inside of her. 

Immaculate Sydney Sweeney as the Virgin Mary

The horror continues and as it does the audience notices something. Around every corner, in every dark room, where there should be a jump scare, there isn’t one. Instead, the film allows our hearts to beat and our fingers to grip our seats in anticipation, only to allow us a moment of respite when the terror we were expecting doesn’t come. Then it rips the comfort away from us with an act of horror shown in plain sight. The way that horror is depicted here parallels the experience of what it is like to exist within a female presenting body. We walk through our nightmares, scared of the shadows in the corner. Only to be faced with violence, misogyny, and the control of our bodies the moment we open our eyes. Immaculate refuses to sugar coat it, and it refuses to be diplomatic. Following the lasting effects of the #metoo movement, and a rise in Republican policies set to control women’s bodies and force pregnancy on the American people, it is no surprise that Sweeney attacks the GOP and evangelicals. Simply naming the film "Immaculate" nodding to the belief in immaculate conception is a finger pointed directly at evangelical radicals. Taking it a step further by having Cecilia say to her captor, Father Sal Tedeschi “this is not the will of God”. And as a truly devout man, these words should hurt him, however, director Michael Mohan chooses to replicate the modern day Christian sentiment with the Father simply retorting, “if this is not the will of God, then why does he not stop us?”.

But Mohan and Sweeny don’t stop at the GOP and evangelicals. Sweeney pokes at the drove of fan boys who see her as no more than a big boobed dumb blonde and it is everything to watch. Mohan is very deliberate about the way Sydney Sweeney’s body is portrayed throughout the film, something that can’t help but feel like a slight to Euphoria creator, Sam Levinson. For almost the entirety of the film Sweeney is shown in her nuns habit or an unflattering nightgown meant to do anything but make Sweeney sexy. The one instance where her chest is shown through a water logged night gown has taken the male gaze and tossed it out of the window. There is no sexual inference and not a moment to ogle, simply the uncomfortability of a womens pain. 

Sydney Sweeney Immaculate fire scene

Photo from: Yahoo Movies UK

Sweeney and Mohan are careful to show her pregnancy as gruesome and painful, as just an unwanted thing, ending the film with Cecilia killing the child forced on her. Screaming a big FUCK YOU to the American government and Republican party. That is the beauty of this film. The fact that the ending is not her learning to love and accept the child. Instead, her actions reflect the reality that the myth of the motherly instinct is simply that, a myth. A forced child will not be loved, nor will it be wanted, instead it becomes a weight used to hold down and trap women into subservience. Sweeny will not be forced into silence because of her body, and men’s desire to control it as much as Cecilia refuses to in the film. It's time we start to acknowledge the Immaculate Sydney Sweeney, because there's truly nothing more beautiful than a woman who isn’t scared to say hands off my body.

Sydney Sweeney Immaculate ending

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