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  • Writer's pictureWill Scarbrough

Review: Women Talking

Women in an isolated religious colony struggle to reconcile with their faith after a series of sexual assaults.

Claire Foy, Rooney Mara, Jessie Buckley, Frances McDormand & Ben Winshaw.

Women Talking is as its title suggests, a whole lot of talking and a whole lot of listening. With a film so heavy on the subject matter and so contained in location, many films struggle to keep audiences engaged with only its characters, dialogue and the performances that carry that all. This isn’t an issue here, with a tight, gorgeously written screenplay performed to absolute perfection by its ensemble cast.

To highlight the performances, I mainly want to discuss Claire Foy & Jessie Buckley. Along with Ben Winshaw & Rooney Mara. Complimented by the screenplay, Claire Foy delivers a ferocious and intense performances full of deep fear and anger towards the men that have wronged her. Working nicely with Jessie, whom is also full of rage and anger that is delivered to perfection. Each line of dialogue delivered with intense excellence, highlighting the empathy in every word. Rooney Mara is lovable, yet hides a lot of deep pain behind her eyes and certain delivery. While Ben Winshaw delivers one of the best supporting male performances of the year. Deeply emotional and vulnerable, yet commands the screen and never lets the audience go.

The film tackles with tough subject matter such as sexual abuse, rape & abuse in general. As well as the rights of women that are taken from them. Faith and religious metaphor’s guiding the film along, as an important trait to these characters who struggle with faith during trying times. The script is completely focused and empathetic in each and every intent. Directed wonderfully by Sarah Polley, but difficult to call that a standout.

Despite its great framing, direction and editing. It’s hard to ignore the colour grading which has received many complaints from other critics. While it gives us a gritty, ugly response to represent the feelings of these women. It’s hard not to wish it was graded in a better, more effortless way. It felt rather simple & cheap, rather than too compelling. It was an occasional distraction that didn’t take too much away from the rest of the film.

And while the score is fantastic, it sometimes felt rather repetitive and therefore boring. While I was completely engaged with the screenplay & performances, the score sometimes took me out. Whether it would have been better without a score in the moment, or composed differently is hard to determine, but it’s hard to ignore my overall feelings towards the choice.

Overall, Women Talking is astonishing. It’s heartbreakingly performed, written, edited & directed. Complete with empathetic intentions and forward thinking messages that I hope a lot latch onto. It’s an Oscar contender for sure with its fantastic technicals and terrific ensemble.

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