WOMEN TALKING (2022)
Release Date: 12/25/22 [BFI London Film Festival]
Studio: United Artists Releasing / Orion
"In 2010, the women of an isolated religious community grapple with reconciling their reality with their faith. Based on the novel by Miriam Toews."
OUR MOVIE REVIEW:
Women Talking is actress/writer Sarah Polley’s fourth foray into feature film directing, and it is a triumph – visually, thematically, and emotionally – from start to finish. It’s one of many films to tackle the “me too'' topic in recent years, but Polley’s intentionally calm, quietly engaging direction elevates the film to a level others have failed to reach. Taking place in a secluded religious community, the film presents itself as a period piece (minus some small clues, such as a ballpoint pen and modern-looking glasses) until a drive-by census-taker reveals the story to be set in 2010. It’s a brilliant yet subtle nod to the timelessness of the issue at hand; that of women taking a stand again physical and sexual violence committed against them.
The premise is simple but impactful: a colony of women are victims of a targeted sexual attack by the men of their community, and they’re faced with an agonizing decision: how to respond to the crimes committed against them. The film boasts an ensemble cast so impressive it rivals 2022’s celeb-studded Glass Onion in terms of starpower, but Women Talking forgoes flash in favor of substance. Rooney Mara plays wide-eyed Ona; giving her most charming and likable performance to date as a young woman who wound up pregnant as a result of her rape. Claire Foy shines as outspoken mother Samone, and Jessie Buckley’s portrayal of Mariche, a woman grappling with intense fear and anger, should be one to watch come awards season.
Guiding the group’s discussions is August, a male ally played with a heart wrenching childlike innocence by Ben Whishaw. Hopelessly in love with Ona, the group’s ultimate decision makes August’s fate all the more heartbreaking. Women Talking isn’t your stereotypical revenge film – and it sends a message of “not all men” with subtlety while not playing down the impact of the crimes committed against so many women. It’s a stunning take on a timely topic and will go down as one of the best films of 2022.