Things to Watch: Women Talking

Title: women who talk

Describe this movie in one Once upon a time there were warriors Estimate:

BETH HEKE: If my spirit can survive living with you for eighteen years, then I can survive anything.

Brief plot summary: Women from an isolated religious community grapple with the revelation of years of sexual abuse.

Ranking using random items relevant to the movie: 4 out of 5 Cassie Thomas

Slogan : “Do nothing. Stay and fight. Leave.”

Best Tagline: “What great options.”

Not-so-brief plot synopsis: A group of women from a fundamentalist Mennonite colony meet in secret in a hayloft to discuss what action to take after discovering that they have been drugged and sexually abused by the men of their community for years. Some advocate retaliating, some say ignore the crimes, others push to flee the colony altogether.

“Critical analysis: Sarah Polley’s first directing effort since the 2012 autobiography Stories we tell is a searing story that deftly uses the perspective of a subculture foreign to many of us to examine larger questions about how a society responds to the abuse of women.

Based on the novel by Miriam Toews, itself based on real events that took place in Bolivia in 2011, women who talk may only be Polley’s fourth feature film behind the camera, but she already handles tasks with the sureness and ability that some who have worked there for decades cannot. women who talk sometimes feels as intimate as a stage production and at others as expansive as a historical epic.

Of course, it doesn’t hurt if your cast includes Frances McDormand, Claire Foy, Jessie Buckley, Rooney Mara and Judith Ivey. All are strong enough actors to carry a movie, but put together in what almost amounts to a single movie, the results are wonderful.

That’s because Polley takes the time to flesh out each of their characters, allowing them to ask the hard questions about their options in the wake of atrocities. Of these, Foy’s Salome most forcefully advocates escape. But as the story progresses and the conversations continue, the enormity of what the women are up against really begins to take hold.

women who talk relies so heavily on dialogue, in fact, that when we’re briefly confronted with the physical evidence of the assaults, it’s all the more shocking.

The men are naturally mostly on the periphery, the exceptions being August (Ben Whishaw), a shy teacher, and Melvin (August Winter). The absence of the other men, away on colony business, only adds further tension to the proceedings, the return of which is the deadline the women face. The tension is heightened by the sparse score of the great Hildur Guðnadóttir and the washed-out cinematography of Luc Montpellier.

It would have been easy for Polley and company to deliver a polemic, but they are more interested in more subtle issues; about the nature of forgiveness and the importance of faith (best personified by Mariche de Buckley), even in the face of almost unimaginable assault and violence.

And that’s what finally gives women who talk its universality. At first, it seems like these characters inhabit a world alien to ours, but by the end, their experiences are sadly familiar, as are the dilemmas they face in dealing with them.

Women Talking is in theaters today.

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