Film buffs could be forgiven for assuming that a documentary called A Girl & A Gun would be about Jean-Luc Godard (who famously cited those two items as all one needs to make a movie), or perhaps about film noir. It’s meant quite literally here, though. The subject is women and firearms. What about women and firearms? Well, did you know that some women use firearms? It’s true! Were you aware that guns are more commonly associated with masculinity than with femininity? If not, prepare to be amazed. And get this—Hollywood has been known to put guns in the hands of busty actresses in an eroticized fashion. At times, A Girl & A Gun calls to mind Albert Brooks’ sardonic remark to William Hurt in Broadcast News, in response to Hurt’s manipulative report on date rape: “I think you really blew the lid off nookie.”
Very occasionally, director Cathryne Czubek finds something to discuss that isn’t either blatantly obvious or better suited to the pages of a book. (She interviews the authors of several such books, with titles such as Gun Women: Firearms And Feminism In Contemporary America.) One talking head, for example, notes the prevalence in movies and TV of the woman with a gun held close to her chest or face, pointing upward, which was apparently originated by Kate Jackson on Charlie’s Angels and has no practical function whatsoever (unless you’re hoping to shoot yourself in the head). Much more often, however, the film makes such banal observations as “some guns made expressly for women have pink handles” and “Annie Oakley was a person who once existed.” And though it runs a mere 76 minutes, it can’t maintain its muddled thesis for even that brief period. A Girl & A Gun introduces one woman who used a gun to defend herself from an intruder, and then another woman who’s in prison for having shot and killed her girlfriend during a fight. What does their gender have to do with this standard-issue Second Amendment debate? Not a thing. Doc makers seem convinced that all that is required to make a movie is a topic and a camera. It just ain’t so.