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The confident, fearless film is a testament to female empowerment, depicting a colony of vulnerable women banding together to change their lives for the better — facing the unknown in order to improve the situation not just out of their own self-interest, but out of love for their fellow sisters in Christ. It's a beautifully shot, skillfully acted story that sends a powerful message about choosing a better future.
The film was written and directed by Sarah Polley, a Canadian storyteller with a knack for exploring broken relationships. Her films "Away From Her" and "Take This Waltz" are evocative, intimate portraits of domestic partnerships, interrupted by chance; the former centers on a long marriage disrupted by dementia, while the latter tackles the more mundane (and therefore more relatable) experience of falling out of love. "Women Talking" is the next stage for the filmmaker. It's a tightly written, smart, and surprisingly funny story that aches with love, pain, and longing that comes with any breakup — but here, an entire community is experiencing it all at once.
Polley's film is based on the Miriam Toews novel of the same name, which the New York Times called "a Mennonite #MeToo Novel." The story is a fictionalized account of the horrific, true events that happened in a Mennonite community in Bolivia. This occurred for far too long, with the women unable to stop the late-night intruders from violating them in what should be their safest, most private spaces. The biggest tragedy of the situation was the lack of recourse. Women weren't believed, with their stories being dismissed as "wild female imagination" or explained away as the act of demons or ghosts. The truth was much scarier.
Polley created something remarkable with "Women Talking." It feels like an important film — but even as it's tackling this incredibly upsetting topic, there's an undercurrent of optimism and love that prioritizes humanizing these objectified women over reducing them to the transgressions acted upon them. Moments of levity and joy twinkle throughout the crackling, tense narrative, endearing the characters to us viewers. It's a fierce message against the oppressors, unapologetically feminist in reckoning against the patriarchy. This may be a movie about crimes committed within a Mennonite community, but its message is one we can apply to greater society as a whole.— Sarah Milner, SlashFilm
Mon November 28, 7:00 PM, Muenzinger Auditorium
United States of America, 2022, in English, 104 min
Screenplay: Sarah Polley, Director: Sarah Polley, Novel: Miriam Toews, Cast: Rooney Mara, Claire Foy, Jessie Buckley, Ben Whishaw, Judith Ivey