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A 2003 drama directed by Mike Newell, starring Creator/JuliaRoberts, Creator/MaggieGyllenhaal, Creator/KirstenDunst and Creator/JuliaStiles.

In [[TheFifties 1953]], a 30-something grad student from UCLA named Katherine Watson (Roberts) accepts a teaching position at a liberal arts college for women in Massachusetts. Katherine's teaching style is unorthodox, as is her ardent feminism, and while she is welcomed by some of her students and colleagues, she also ruffles a lot of feathers -- particularly those of the college president and the head of the alumnae association.

The film reads a lot like a gender-flipped ''Film/DeadPoetsSociety''.

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!!This film provides examples of:

* AlphaBitch: Betty is this [[spoiler: until her CharacterDevelopment.]]
* ArtisticLicenseHistory: When the film came out, Wellesley College alumnae were not happy about how their school was portrayed, insisting that while it was indeed typical at the time to get married after you graduated, the overall environment at the school was not as snobbish and politically conservative as in the film and they did not wear girdles to class or attend lessons on "poise and elocution".
* AssimilationAcademy: While the school provides young women with an education, it is portrayed as ultimately grooming them for the role of proper upper-class housewives.
* BreakTheHaughty: Betty and her journey as a Stepford Wife after a lavish wedding ceremony and a FairytaleWeddingDress [[spoiler: only for her hubby to neglect her and eventually cheat on her]].
* BrokenAesop: Joan [[spoiler:decides to get married rather than go to Yale]] and is happy to have done so. She tells Katherine that being a housewife doesn't mean that she doesn't have any depth or value. That's a fair point, although it might have worked better coming from a character other than Joan, a straight A student and ExtracurricularEnthusiast who actually wanted to "have it both" ''and'' had been implied to repress the desire to continue her education in order to fit the conventional role of a stay-at-home wife. In this context her final decision seems more like conforming than anything else and her husband's jokes about how [[spoiler:it was impossible for Joan to go to Yale because then the dinner wouldn't be at 5]] don't make it any more comfortable.
* BuryYourGays: Amanda's long-term girlfriend dies [[HideYourGays offscreen]] before the film's plot starts.
* TheCameo: Music/ToriAmos as the wedding singer.
* ConsummateLiar: Bill turns out to be one.
* CooldownHug: Giselle gives one to Betty [[spoiler: when she finds out that her husband cheats on her.]]
* DeadpanSnarker: Giselle and Amanda.
* DefrostingIceQueen: Both Betty and Katherine.
* EthicalSlut: While Giselle has affairs with older, often married men, she's the one who discovers Spencer is cheating on Betty and even helps make it right. Despite her liberal views, she is not a bad person.
* {{Feminism}}: Pre-Second Wave, more specifically.
* TheFifties:
* FreudianExcuse : Betty accuses Giselle of having an Electra complex.
** Rather ironically, Giselle herself as an Electra Complex as an excuse for her developing a taste for older men.
* AFriendInNeed: Giselle and Betty for most of the movie are at each other's throats until [[spoiler: Giselle finds out that Spencer cheats on Betty]]. Not only doesn't she mock her, but she's the one who fixes her.
* HandsomeLech: You'll never see Bill Dunbar without a chick on his side.
* HeelFaceTurn: Betty spends the entire beginning of the film insisting women observe their place as wives and mothers, even publicly attacking Amanda Armstrong and Katherine Watson for not having the same standards. After her marriage fails, she changes her standards by divorcing her husband and renting an apartment with Giselle. She even was considering law school, something she was against when Joan was considering it.
* HighConcept: Has been referred to as a GenderFlip of ''Film/DeadPoetsSociety'' by some reviewers.
* HotForTeacher: Giselle had an affair with Mr. Dunbar, and clearly she's still quite smitten.
* HotForStudent: While Giselle is the only one openly mentioned to be part of Dunbar's affairs, it's heavily implied he has slept with other students as well.
* HumansAreFlawed: Bill tries to play this card after [[spoiler: Katherine finds out that he lied about being a war hero]]. He even goes as far as comparing his situation to Joan's. [[spoiler:It doesn't work.]]
* TheIngenue: Connie, and that's why Betty usually picks on her.
* It'sAllAboutMe: Betty's mother concerning Betty's marriage to Spencer. She insisted that Betty be the perfect wife and refuses to take her back when her marriage goes south. After Spencer cheats on Betty, she tells Betty to try and make her marriage work for a year and not to tell anyone so that it doesn't damage her mother's reputation. Betty eventually tells her off and divorces Spencer anyways.
* LoveMartyr: Giselle knows full well what kind of a man Bill is, but can't get over him and would be willing to take him back if he was interested.
* TheMourningAfter: Nancy gets drunk at Betty's wedding and reveals how much she mourns her boyfriend who died in UsefulNotes/WorldWarII.
** Actually {{subverted|Trope}}, as she gets drunker and admits he dumped her.
* MRSDegree: Katherine complains that she thought she was educating the leaders of tomorrow, not their wives, as some her students are highly capable but have no personal ambition.
* OedipusComplex: Giselle's father left his family, and it's implied that is the reason why she seeks sleeps mostly with older men.
* RacistGrandmother: Or mother in this case. Betty's mother doesn't like Giselle because she's jewish.
* ReallyGetsAround: Giselle has a quite lively love life, with an OedipusComplex as her FreudianExcuse.
* RealWomenDontWearDresses: Katherine's attitude borders on this till she gets a TheReasonYouSuckSpeech.
* RichBitch: Mrs. Warren and her daughter Betty. Betty gets better, though.
* SchoolNurse: Amanda Armstrong, who is quite forward-thinking in discreetly supplying contraceptives to the students.
* SeeminglyWholesomeFiftiesGirl: The most prominent example is Giselle, a straight-A student by day, and a FemmeFatale by night.
* SpiritualSuccessor: to ''Film/DeadPoetsSociety''.
* StayInTheKitchen: The generic expectation is that the college will prepare the girls for [[MrsDegree their future role as housewives]] and when it's not blatantly stated, it's strongly suggested.
* StepfordSmiler: "Is Mona Lisa happy? Who cares? The important thing is that she smiles..."
* StrawFeminist: The teacher crosses this line when being too aggressive.
* TokenMinority: Giselle is the only Jewish student we get to see, and it's implied that it's one of the causes of her being an outcast.
* TroubledAbuser: Betty, after [[spoiler:her husband starts cheating on her]] and even before. She tends to bully people who don't fit in the society as well as her, but is in turn treated similarly by her mother. It's also implied that even Mrs. Warren, a bitch as she is, had a miserable married life herself and that's the reason she's constantly pressuring her daughter into trying even harder to fit the ideal.
* VictoriousLoser: Katherine at the end of the movie. [[spoiler: She lost her job, her romance with Bill went up in smoke, but she remained true to herself and her principles. As a bonus, her disappointment in Joan settling for life as a happy homemaker, is balanced by the knowledge that she helped Betty, who throughout most of the film had been her most inveterate and effective opponent and upholder of the social status quo, to muster the strength to build her own life in defiance of the rigid norms of the early 1950s.]]
* WhiteAngloSaxonProtestant: Most of the characters in the movie except for Giselle and a briefly-seen black student (a non-speaking part). {{Justified|Trope}} since the setting is an UsefulNotes/IvyLeague in TheFifties so a multiethnic university is almost unthinkable.
* WrongNameOutburst: Katherine calls Paul "Bill" revealing that she's not into him anymore.
* YouCantGoHomeAgain: When Betty's marriage goes wrong, her mother doesn't want to take her back so that she can trap Betty into her marriage. She eventually calls her mother out on that and tells her she is renting an apartment in Greenwich village with Giselle, someone her mother can't stand.
* YourCheatingHeart: Sadly [[spoiler: Betty's husband doesn't turn out to be so reliable to her.]]
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