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  • Writer's pictureSteve

Women Talking (2022)

Just squeezing this in before the ceremony starts later tonight. Miriam Toews' novel, based on women's experiences of an insular, ultraconservative community in Bolivia, where serial rapes occurred, has been adapted here with the help of Canadian filmmaker Sarah Polley. Not shy of a bit of a ruck, politically, Polley has seemingly never had too much trouble rocking whatever boat she's on, so a blatant and amplified failure here to pass the Bechdel Test should come as no surprise.

I imagine and hope that I am an intelligent, contemporary grown up male of the species, so feel that I should naturally (to me, at least) be questioning the motives of a project that is helmed by one so radical, be they male or female. And therefore, just how much of the 'female imagining' I should really take as what others may describe as gospel.

I'm not sure just for how long we will be reminded of some egregious and unacceptable male treatment of women, but honestly, we get it. The ones that need to hear and understand it are not watching, just so you know. Bad things happen to good people. In every way, this notion isn't novel a, no matter how much you wave a flag saying that it is.

"But it's only a movie," they say. Alright then, so categorizing it as such would beg me to view it as a piece of entertainment. In this regard, it fails quite spectacularly. As a vehicle for actors and embellishing both kudos and ideologies, it is a triumph. As a viewer, it is a film I feel the rest of the world expects me to, or even demands, thinks is outstanding. As you can imagine, this rubs me up the wrong way as a reviewer who still wants to be seen to be open-minded and honest, where perhaps the less confident of their stance may merely wither into the mass of praise heaped upon it, for fear of infamy.

Serious and confrontational, I imagine the likes of Greta Thunberg would love it, if she has chance to see it whilst on her globe trotting, tree-shredding book tour, pulping her precious planet to flog her thoughts on paper to anyone single-mindedly negligent enough as to not consider it.

And here is the rub, you can bet those that shout the loudest really have the least to say, yet the highest regard for their own relevance. This is what makes me stop and wonder what I should really, truly, take from the existence of this film. I do not mean to undermine the project which has undeniable merit in many areas, but at the same time, I worry about its direction (not cinematically as such, but morally and thematically). A sobering piece of filmmaking that many will not have the patience for, for more than a handful of reasons. The acting was incredible, delivering lines that were potentially too self-congratulatory more than pertinent.

Daydream Believer indeed.


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