For a cynical bitch, I am quite a sentimental sot.
These are the shoes I wore for my wedding. I don’t normally wear heels, but the height was necessary to avoid expensive alterations of the dress. They’ve lived in the closet since then, but for our fifth anniversary bash in Las Vegas, I thought it might be nice to break them out.
Our plan was to walk from our room at the Bellagio to the Mirage for dinner, then to the High Roller at the Linq and back to the hotel for our Cirque du Soleil tickets. It’s a distance of about two miles all told. No big deal, right?
I collapsed into our table at Carnegie Deli in excruciating pain. We ended up taking a cab to the Ferris wheel, and would have done again to get back to the Bellagio except by the time we got back to the Strip to hail a cab we realized we were right there, so I tottered painfully across the pedestrian bridges until we reached the sanctuary of the hotel. Yes, I was that girl walking through the casino with high heels in hand, except I was doing it at 9pm, because that’s how long I lasted. The lovely blister I earned for my troubles covered most of the ball of my right foot.
So going into Jurassic World, I could kind of get why everyone was making such a big deal about the fact that Bryce Dallas Howard’s theme park executive Claire Dearing spends the entire movie in a grossly impractical pair of stilettos. Many have bemoaned the fact that she doesn’t ditch the shoes when danger arises. (Because running through a jungle barefoot is safer, apparently?) It’s just unrealistic for an operations manager to be wearing those sorts of shoes at all, let alone doing what she does in them, right?
Well, tell that to the actress who did it all for real, across multiple takes. The damn shoes are pretty much the only thing in the movie that isn’t CGI. Far from judging her, I was in awe of someone who could dominate Isla Nublar in shoes I couldn’t even walk normally in. I can attest to the sheer physical intensity of what she’s doing and can say unequivocally that she is by far the toughest person there.
What everyone, both the critics and her fellow characters, seems to be missing is that Claire doesn’t need to take off the shoes. Everyone assumes that the shoes will be a liability, just like everyone assumes that she doesn’t know how to run her park or that she’ll eventually come around to wanting motherhood. But the glorious thing about the movie is that everyone is completely wrong on all of those counts, and the frustrating thing about the movie is that this is never quite acknowledged within the text. It seems like Claire’s arc is less about her own growth than about forcing those who’ve belittled her to take her seriously, but it doesn’t actually pay off. I mean, Owen (Chris Pratt) reacts to her competently and efficiently saving his life by kissing her, rather than, say, thanking her. (In a testament to the generally solid acting on display, Owen does seem to treat Claire a bit more as an equal after that point, a performance choice too understated to come across in a movie that is Sharknado levels of unsubtle.) His gobsmacked expression as she lures a T. Rex into battle–thereby decisively accomplishing what he could barely convince his raptors to do–is satisfying, but that character development really needed a better coda than his lame line at the end.
One of my favorite moments is when Owen stops and reaches back for Claire to help her down some steps, since going down stairs is one of the most difficult parts of walking in heels, and she bolts right past him without hesitation. His action shows that his heart is in the right place, but hers shows just how thoroughly he’s underestimated her. From the second she steps on screen, Claire is fighting dinosaurs while effortlessly rocking a pair of heels. It really shouldn’t be surprising that she’s just as comfortable when the dinosaurs of gender politics get swapped for the scales-and-teeth kind.