Flashback: Ms. 45 (1981)

In Abel Ferrara’s street-scuzzy, sun-streaked, neon-lurid New York film noir, from 1980, the protagonist, Thana (Zoë Tamerlis Lund)—short for the Greek word for “death”—suffers in silence: the character is mute, gesturing and passing notes to make herself understood, and her social isolation and her inability to vent her rage lend her gestures an ever-greater symbolic impact.

With Grand Guignol relish, Ferrara depicts a city in the throes of a Wild West lawlessness that invites vigilante action (the Guardian Angels are thanked in the end credits). But his sardonic documentary portraits of cheesy styles of macho seduction set up an implacable gender opposition of legendary dimensions, beyond politics and perhaps beyond redress.

Richard Brody, The New Yorker