FILM REVIEW — Searing drama in “Women Talking”

Published 12:02 am Friday, January 20, 2023

“Women Talking”

United Artists

Directed by Sarah Polley

Starring Jessie Buckley, Rooney Mara, Claire Foy, Judith Ivy, Frances McDormand and Ben Whishaw

Rated PG-13

3 ½ Stars

“Women Talking” is one of my favorite films of the year – I ranked it as No. 4 on my Top 10 List.

The film finally gets an expanded release this weekend, hoping to capitalize on any Oscar nominations that might be coming on Tuesday. Sadly, I’m not certain that there will be many nominations, but I still urge you to seek out this powerful drama.

Based on the novel by Miriam Towes, this is the story of a group of women living in an isolated religious society. They learn that their men in the community have been drugging and raping them at night.

The problem is the church elders demand the victims forgive their abusers.

So, as the title proclaims, this is the story of a group of these women talking about what they should do.

Do they stay and try to forgive these men?

Do they stay and fight?

Or should they leave and abandon the only home that they’ve ever known?

And if they leave, will they be able to take their children?

Given the subject matter, you can expect plenty of dramatic moments. That is especially true as the women have different ideas about how to respond to the attacks, and they are ready to fight before uprooting their entire lives.

Between the subject matter and this cast of superb actors (Jessie Buckley, Rooney Mara, Claire Foy, Judith Ivy and Frances McDormand) it’s little wonder “Women Talking” made a very powerful impression on me.

The only problem is the film is not inherently cinematic. Most of the action takes place in a dark barn and, as the title suggests, is mainly a group of women sitting around and talking.

Audiences accustomed to blockbuster visuals and special effects in their movies will obviously be disappointed. On the other hand, fans of dramatic acting shouldn’t worry as there are plenty of fireworks coming from the performances.

I tend to think of “Women Talking” as a piece of theater that just happens to be in movie form. There are powerful emotions laid bare here in this truly affecting drama.

Kudos to director/screenwriter Sarah Polley for this masterful piece of cinema. Conventional wisdom says she will win an Oscar for her screenplay.

I do still think the film will get a Best Picture Oscar nomination as well, but I fear the actresses will cancel each other out in the performance categories and the film is destined to be swept aside by some of this year’s showier pictures.

I hope that I’m mistaken.

I hope that fans of searing drama will seek this film out, either in theaters this week or on home streaming in a month or so. “Women Talking” is simply too good of a drama to be ignored.

Movie reviews by Sean McBride, “The Movie Guy,” are published each week by Orange Newsmedia and seen weekly on KFDM and Fox4. Sean welcomes your comments via email at sean@seanthemovieguy.com.