Women Talking Review: Speaking Truth to Power
“Sarah Polley’s ‘Women Talking’ has its flaws, but its great acting and heartfelt script make it the first must-see movie of 2023.”
outstanding performance team
Lack of suspense about the outcome of the film
women’s story Must have one of the most honest titles in the world. film industryOften friendly, but sometimes not, what they talk about for 104 minutes is fascinating.
However, the film written and directed by Sarah Polley (stay away from her), is more than a solemn chamber piece. It’s also surprisingly funny in parts, uplifting without being schmaltish, deeply moving, and also just slightly off the mark and maddening in every way. It’s a prime example of how flawed movies are stronger than perfect ones, and perhaps that’s the point of the big picture.
Violence in Heartland
women’s story It begins in the aftermath of a series of violent sexual attacks against women in an isolated Mennonite community somewhere in the Heartland. One of them was attacked by one of the victims.
When the perpetrator is imprisoned in a remote secular prison for his crimes, the Mennonite man leaves the community to bail him out, giving the women a rare opportunity to come together and consider their options. Fight for the land and family they have cultivated over the years, or leave to find a new home.
In just five minutes, it conveys a generational trauma and introduces the film’s central dilemma. Her next 100 minutes focus on a group of 10 women. Some of them have mothers and grandmothers, others still have children. All have been affected in some way by sexual violence in their communities. Sit in the barn, yourself, your family, your community, and your faith.
acting group of stars
The film’s main strength is getting to know each of these women (and one man who sympathizes with their plight). There is Ona (Rooney Mara) who is unmarried and pregnant by one of her attackers. Salome (crownClaire Foy of), fighting back from an attacking attempt in the opening and itching to fight some more. Stuck in a violent marriage, Marish (Jesse Buckley) takes out his anger on others. Agata (Judith Ivey) and Greta (Shelia McCarthy) are her two older politicians in the community, weighing the logistical, personal and mental complexities of making decisions. Nettie (August Winter) is the victim of an attack, mute and distrustful of adults. and Scarface Jans (Francis McDormand), who lurks on the sidelines as chief representative of the “do nothing” faction.
There’s also August (Ben Whishaw), the only male in the group, taking minutes of meetings and serving as Ona’s potential love interest. Some of these characters are related to each other. Some hate each other. But they are all united by a common desire to discuss their current situation and weigh the pros and cons of each choice.
Like the great classic of 1957 12 angry men, there’s enough interest and drama to see these characters question each other and themselves. Is it right to remain under constant threat of physical and psychological violence? Will they abandon their male children if they leave?And where do they go when they leave the community they’ve always belonged to? Good evidence. women’s story The thing is that even though most of the film takes place in a barn, these topics are discussed in a way that never feels staged or stagnant.
A stellar acting ensemble lends just the right amount of weight to the film’s central argument. That’s in contrast to the often overheated scenarios she’s been placed in. Foy’s Salome is all fire and fury, ready to face and fight anyone who dares cross her path. Both McCarthys bring subtle stability and wisdom to their understated performances that serve as the group’s center of gravity.
As Marish, Buckley simply stands out, using her character’s irony to hide deep wounds that are reluctantly revealed towards the end of the film. As August, who goes beyond his love for, he will give a heartbreaking performance. All of these actors work beautifully in harmony with each other to create a genuine sense of community that helps sell the high stakes at hand.
If the acting ensemble is pitch perfect, the rest of the film is not. Polley strays wildly from the barn’s central conflict in his first hour, undermining what should be a strong setup. Perhaps afraid of looking too flashy, Pauly instead often cuts into random action, from a girl walking in a sunny field to showing the aftermath of each woman’s assault. The results are both frustrating and confusing, as it can be unnecessarily complicated to follow the progress of the discussion.
At one point, a character is asked to vote again on whether to stay or leave, and another responds, “Didn’t we just do that?” A sense of repetitiveness creeps in as the central question is asked and answered repeatedly. Less time is devoted to actually exploring some of the issues the film raises, such as how women’s faith collides with the violence they’ve endured. No one is angry with God. It clashes with the renewed spirit of rebellion that each woman exhibits in her own unique way.
Plus, there’s no real suspense about what women do. After initiation, they are quickly discarded, with only McDormand’s Scarface his Yantz appearing sporadically with a silent scowl. Why do these women stay?What their Arguing? By contrast, the “Leave” faction is given too much weight to create real suspense about what the outcome of the debate will be. It’s an obvious correct answer from the modern audience’s point of view, but it shouldn’t be so obvious in the film itself.
necessary and urgent
Oddly enough, these flaws make the film all the more resonant and powerful. women’s story It could easily have become too theatrical or didactic, with an emphasis on outlining each detail of the Mennonite community or using cheap theatrics to spice up the drama. Yes, Polley does neither. Instead, she shows empathy and compassion for these women facing impossible choices.
These characters come to life through the power of Paulie’s words and the excellent acting of the cast. The phrase “speak truth to power” is now a bit overused and overused, women’s storywhen these women speak the truth of their situation, they meet, argue, and most fundamentally, selectIt’s a strong film to watch, one that resonates and is needed even more for Roe 2023 and beyond.
women’s story Playing in theaters nationwide.