Leonardo DiCaprio, Michelle Williams

Leonardo DiCaprio’s Tortured Ladies


While watching Inception over the weekend, we came up with a theory: for someone with such a sweet face, Leonardo DiCaprio is kind of like the Henry VIII of the film world. Female characters don’t exactly flourish in his movies. Multiple suicides. A murder. A kidnapping. You get the drift. After the jump, we investigate what happened to the women in a few of our favorite Leo films, and attempt to understand: Why does it suck so much to be a lady in a Leonardo DiCaprio movie?

Inception (2010)

We’ll to keep this one as spoiler-lite as possible, but if you haven’t seen the flick yet, you might want to skip it. Marion Cotillard is Mal, the wife of Cobb, a man played by Leo who steals valuable secrets from people as they dream. She’s no longer alive — at least outside of his subconscious — and he’s not allowed to return to the United States because he’s wanted for her murder.

Shutter Island (2010)

In this Martin Scorsese thriller, Michelle Williams plays Dolores Chanal, Leonardo DiCaprio’s manic depressive wife. He tells people that she died in an arsonist’s fire, but really he murdered her after discovering that she had drowned their young children.

Revolutionary Road (2008)

Kate Winslet is April Wheeler, the unhappier half of a couple living in the suburbs of Connecticut. When plans to reinvigorate their marriage with a move to Paris fall through (thanks to her husband’s promotion and her third pregnancy), April decides to perform a self-abortion, and ends up (inadvertently?) taking her own life.

Body of Lies (2008)

Leonardo DiCaprio plays a CIA case officer in Jordan who meets a nurse named Aisha (Golshifteh Farahani). He falls for her; she gets kidnapped by the scary terrorists who he has been hunting down.

The Departed (2006)

Leo plays an undercover cop trying to infiltrate the Irish Mob. To make it seem more convincing, he’s sent to prison on a fake assault charge, and has to see a psychiatrist, Madolyn Madden (Vera Farmiga), as part of his “probation.” He eventually discovers (and then reveals to her), that her fiance isn’t really a good guy working for the Massachusetts State Police; rather, he’s part of the mob. Also: she’s pregnant with the mobster’s baby.

The Aviator (2004)

Katharine Hepburn (Cate Blanchett). Ava Gardner (Kate Beckinsale). Jean Harlow (Gwen Stefani). As the OCD-plagued aviator Howard Hughes, Leo loved, wire-tapped, and emotionally abused them all, before succumbing to his own paranoia.

Catch Me If You Can (2002)

Amy Adams is Brenda, a nurse in Georgia who was disowned by her strict Lutheran parents after having an abortion. Leo is Frank Abagnale, Jr., a con man wanted by the FBI, who sweeps into town posing as a doctor. They get engaged, and Frank joins her father’s law firm as an assistant prosecutor. The agent tracking Frank shows up at their engagement party to arrest him, so he finally tells Brenda the truth — and then runs away to Europe.

Titanic (1997)

Yes, it could be argued that as Jack, Leo saves Rose’s (Kate Winslet) life twice in this movie (her initial suicide attempt, and then later in the freezing water). And old lady Rose, in spite of a natural obsession with the Titanic, and an uncanny memory for everything that happened on board, seems to have had a nice time of it post-shipwreck — kids, grand kids, a huge blue diamond… But isn’t doing everything that she said she was going to do with Jack without him kind of the worst punishment ever?

Romeo + Juliet (1996)

Is this the film that started it all?