Women Talking Review

Women Talking is based on the worldwide best-selling book by Mariam Toews. It is a book that deals with sexual assault and how a group of women deals with the men involved in the assault and what they need to do going forward after the assault. This movie deals with sensitive topics regarding women and their bodies. The director is a woman but she still has to tread lightly on how she deals with this subject matter. This film has gotten a lot of critical acclaim based on the performances of the actresses who play some of the women. It is very much deserved.

The story takes place in a secluded religious community similar to the Amish known as Mennonites. They live together in a little town. They grow their own food and sustain their way of life by working together in a society. The men have an authoritative rule over the community and with that comes the power to do whatever they feel like doing. After a sexual assault on several women, the community decides on what to do regarding this heinous act. They created a voting system on how to go forward and each woman had to pick a way to proceed that best fits themselves.

The cast of this film which includes three-time Academy Award winner Frances McDormand is stacked with great actresses. Claire Foy, Jesse Buckley, and Rooney Mara all play members of this community. Born Wishaw plays a man who wasn’t involved in the attack and he’s a teacher of the youth of the group. Most of these women are relatively calm and discuss the two choices they have been given calmly but Foy and Buckley’s characters are a little more fired up about what happened to them. In fact, they are pretty angry about the whole situation. Buckley’s character has a little more to lose than the others though.

This movie is filmed like a play most of the time. The camera moves around the barn in which these women are talking to each other in. It’s like a dance, how it moves around. Each character old and young gets their close-ups to shine in. The dialogue is very well handled and all the women express themselves very well. Even though there are a few big-name actresses in the cast the director doesn’t exclude any member from saying their piece. There are various coins to discuss regarding what to do. It’s not an easy decision and they don’t come to their conclusion on what to do very lightly.

This story isn’t going to be an easy one for people to watch. This is similar in a way to the classic Sydney Lumet film 12 Angry Men. These women have to come to a conclusion that isn’t easy they argue and bicker and one, in particular, has to deal with a husband who gets out of jail early and comes home and beats her. Even though this movie takes place in modern times it still has a semblance of the past in regards to the community. The men act as such where men are the bosses and women do what they are told. With the Me Too movement still going on, this film is going to touch on difficult thinking and mindsets. 

Women Talking wasn’t an easy watch for me because of how the story was presented. It deals with dialogue and a difficult subject matter. These women do a great job of getting this story across. Foy, Buckley and Mara are all terrific in their various roles. They all have different agendas regarding what to do after the assault. They all will be thinking different thoughts on how this situation affects them each. The community as a whole makes a decision that changes their lives and that is oh too familiar regarding this country’s Me Too movement. The director Sarah Polley handles this topic very carefully but very professionally as well. It’s one of the best films of the year.

4 ½ stars 

Dan Skip Allen

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