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film review

Underplayed uses each woman as a jumping-off point for vital conversations about the way race, sexuality and gender have led to such an egregious imbalance of power.Courtesy of CRAVE

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  • Underplayed
  • Directed by Stacey Lee
  • Classification N/A; 87 minutes
CRITIC’S PICK

If you’ve long attributed electronic and dance music to the work of mostly white, straight, male artists, you’d be forgiven; women have consistently been shoved to the genre’s sidelines where they’ve been forced to work twice as hard for half the recognition (or barely any at all). And director Stacey Lee isn’t having it any more.

Underplayed, Lee’s documentary about female electronic artists, takes a pointed and necessary look at the gender inequality that runs rampant in the genre. Following several artists over the course of a festival season, the film uses each woman as a jumping-off point for vital conversations about the way race, sexuality and gender have led to such an egregious imbalance of power. But Lee doesn’t stop there. In addition to featuring contemporary artists, she makes space for the women who pioneered electronica and the necessary acknowledgement that in overlooking their contributions, we’re setting up-and-coming female and non-binary artists to fail.

Of course, sexism in any realm is hardly shocking. But Lee presents her argument in such a clear and empathetic way that you’re not only enraged by the state of the genre, but how the women we meet are still fighting a fight that’s hurting us all.

Underplayed is available to stream on Crave starting March 8

In the interest of consistency across all critics’ reviews, The Globe has eliminated its star-rating system in film and theatre to align with coverage of music, books, visual arts and dance. Instead, works of excellence will be noted with a Critic’s Pick designation across all coverage.