WOMEN TALKING – Review by Susan Granger

0 Flares 0 Flares ×

Best Picture Oscar-nominee Women Talking delves into how solidarity is the key to survival when sexual abuse, including raping four-year-old children, is not only acceptable but condoned through Mennonite religious practices.

“What follows is an act of female imagination,” reads the title card.

Set in 2010 on a remote farm in Canada, it revolves around a group of women inhabiting a closed, cultlike, Christian community in which men routinely drug helpless women/children with livestock tranquilizers and sexually assault them in the middle of the night.

When the women complain, they’re told that what they’ve experienced was demonic, a figment of “wild female imagination,” filling them with guilt and shame. That’s obviously happened once too often because, when some of the men are arrested, the rest go to a nearby town to post bail and rescue them from incarceration.

Secretly meeting in a hayloft, several women are deciding how to react to this latest atrocity. Because they cannot read nor write, they’ve asked the schoolteacher, August (Ben Whishaw), to transcribe the minutes of their meeting.

They realize that they have three choices: 1) Do nothing, 2) Stay and fight, or 3) Leave.

Pensive, pregnant Ona (Rooney Mara) yeans for an idealistic colony where women are educated and allowed to participate in community decisions. Ranting Salome (Claire Foy) oozes rage at patriarchal oppression, along with cynical Mariche (Jessie Buckley), while Scarface Janz (Frances McDormand) is a staunch advocate of “do nothing.”

Two elderly women, Mariche’s mother Greta (Sheila McCarthy) and Ona’s mother Agata (Judith Ivey), offer sympathetic perspective, even as the teenagers (Liv McNeil, Michelle McLeod, Kate Hallett) are easily distracted – plus gender-nonconforming Melvin (August Winter).

Adroitly adapting Canadian author Miriam Toews’ 2018 novel which drew on real-life events that occurred in an insular Mennonite agrarian community in Bolivia, Oscar-nominated writer/director Sarah Polley has assembled an impressive ensemble cast.

Each has an explanatory monologue, emoting as if it was a staged drama, resulting in a film that is not inherently cinematic, particularly since cinematographer Luc Montpellier uses desaturated color.

On the Granger Gauge of 1 to 10, “Women Talking” is an uncompromising 7…only in theaters but soon to be on Amazon Prime.

0 Flares Twitter 0 Facebook 0 0 Flares ×

Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.