His relationship with Leonard is frightful because Martin fears rejection and Leonard is rejection incarnate. Martin has a couple thousand pages of work that he is afraid to present (“a regular Emily Dickinson without the charm” is Leonard’s gruff retort.) To be frank, I had some trouble correlating his role with his actions, because his outward personality is not self-reflective like I would expect it to be if he felt so vulnerable. Instead, Martin attacks Douglas’s literary chops and fortunate son status, enjoys a love affair with Izzy, and takes Kate for granted, assuming she is as needful as he. When he has his best chance to be a good friend (when Kate destroys their illusion of Leonard by inventing her Cubano transvestite gang-member who offers to take her place in the group, ironically proving Leonard right while she tries to dismiss him) instead of being supportive, Martin condemns Kate too. Odd.
Her part demonstrates how sex both opens doors to success and makes any such achievement questionable. Izzy illustrates a fundamental truth: Professional women—even in modern times—cannot express their sexual selves with power and still expect to be respected in their profession. Men can. We’re expected to, but women must foreswear their sexual selves and beautiful women have it the worst. Izzy, who radiates seductive enticement, gives a casual twist of that knife of truth. And there’s the rub. You see, Izzy's sex appeal doesn't reduce her. She is its master and this freedom gained allows her to achieve her objectives. In fact, if we subtract the assumption that her work is without merit (why should we presume the other writers are right? Because of society's preconceived notions?), then perhaps Leonard is being sincere in his praise of her talent with the Shanghai story.
Izzy is the group's glue. She tells Martin, “Stop making a big deal about language,” meaning for him to stop using it as a wedge against Douglas. She pleads with them all to cooperate, that they’re all in it together. Plus, her instincts are right about Martin’s feelings for Kate (revealed later when she rejects him.)
She is no fool, nor does she have time for illusions. Her biological clock is ticking and her intention is to succeed. She is the most feral of Leonard’s cats. When she states that her goal is to write drug menace books and pose for the cover with her shirt off—this said as she dances topless around the sofa—she is undiminished. Rather she emotes territorial presence, feline prowess, and sets a consistent tone for the rest of her story, where sex is a game of low consequence where she always wins. When the confident Izzy says, “I just hate all those women who are hung up about sex,” it divides her from Kate, a good Samaritan who longs for deeper expression than physical intimacy, someone who exudes discomfort. Izzy is played by Eranthis Rose Quigley who brought the right amount of daring and self-awareness to her part. Bravo!
And maybe then it's important to reflect on the quality of the class:
Student 1: Kate. Moves on from a story vacuum sucking away her life. Now moving forward in her career.
Student 2: Izzy. Gets to meet Salman Rushdie, one of my favorite authors.
Student 3: Doug. Gets a meeting with the Weinstein brothers who run studios like Miramax.
Student 4: Martin. Decides to work with him and fuck him up like Mephistopheles in his pocket.
A good deal overall, in my opinion, though getting there was probably painful.