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  • Writer's pictureKatie Jefferis

The One Voice of ‘Women Talking’

Updated: Jan 30, 2023

While I respect and admire Sarah Polley, Frances McDormand, and the many other women involved in this film, the translation of this novel to screen does not work. From the very first scene, the dialogue is clunky, indistinguishable (in tone and delivery) from character to character, and does not sound as if these women are trying to persuade one another on a decision essential to their survival as much as announcing words that have been planted in their mouths by a very contemplative writer. Who had what point of view on leaving was muddled. I didn’t know who I was rooting for because I didn’t emotionally connect to particular women as fighting for a concrete stance. Claire Foy, in fact, seems to deliver a new opinion on leaving in the middle of the film, but I can’t remember seeing her change her mind on screen. For me, dramatizing these moments, these reversals, are the reason to make a film. Who said what to persuade her? How did her character, Salome, react emotionally? How does Salome’s change ripple through the group of women? The film is most effective when its central themes of oppression and injustice against women in a closed community apply directly to women in “free society” today. It’s as if the creators of the film were so preoccupied with the overarching social commentary depicting women’s battle against men that they forgot conflict in the basic plot. And, so, in the end are we meant to root for these women as a whole, a protagonist en masse? Isn’t the idea these women are an anonymous blob rather than autonomous independent thinkers worthy of self-actualization exactly what these women are trying to escape? (3/5) Instead, I recommend: Carlos Reygadas’s Silent Light (2007), which Miriam Toews, the author of the book Women Talking, performed in.

— October 20, 2022

Reviewed: Women Talking (2022), a film directed by Sarah Polley, based on the novel by Miriam Toews.

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