“What happens when you ask women to fit themselves in
smaller, narrower boxes professionally or into a particular type of
intelligence matched with a particular type of beauty?” Mackenzie Davis asks ET
while perched on the edge of a chair in the Bowery Hotel lounge in New York City.
The actress, most recently seen on Netflix’s Black Mirror and AMC’s Halt
and Catch Fire, is explaining how Always
Shinefits into the ongoing discussion about sexism and gender disparity in
Hollywood. “All of these reinforced images and ideas are getting shouted at you
all the time. At a certain point, if you don’t fit in that box you’re going to
explode because it can’t contain you anymore. And this movie is about the
More specifically, the new psychological drama directed by
Sophia Takal (in select theaters Nov. 25) tells the story of two actresses with
differing degrees of success (and different standards set for themselves) -- played
by Davis and Masters of Sex star
Caitlin FitzGerald -- attempting to reconnect after years of jealousy and
competition. As their feelings fester, it becomes clear their senses of
self-worth are dictated by external cultural constructs, causing them to lose hold
of their own identities.
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“It’s sort of this bullshit fairy tale that emblematizes a
very old-fashioned version of female beauty and feminine gender behavior,”
Davis says of the reality that extends offscreen in this film.
While Davis hasn’t found herself trapped in the rom-com world that so many before her have, including her What If co-star Zoe Kazan, she does get her fair share of “strong female character types” thanks to her role as Cameron Howe on Halt and Catch Fire. But Davis says those roles -- just another trope -- “can actually be as flat as not-strong female characters because it’s still an undigested version of what a woman feels like.”