Film Review – Women Talking (2022)

Title – Women Talking (2022) 

Director – Sarah Polley (Stories We Tell)

Cast – Rooney Mara, Claire Foy, Jessie Buckley, Frances McDormand, Ben Whishaw 

Plot – A group of women, isolated in a remote religious community must gather and decide whether they fight or flee from their homes after a series of brutal abuse instances at the hand of their communities males. 

“Sometimes I think people laugh as hard as they’d like to cry”

Review by Eddie on 14/03/2023

Ironically a film few are talking about, despite the fact amongst it’s two Oscar nominations it a spot in the coveted Best Picture category alongside its win in the Best Adapted Screenplay field, Sarah Polley’s star-filled adaptation Women Talking is the exact type of weighty drama you would expect to be a critical and awards darling but despite it being both, Polley’s film has come and gone without much fanfare, including a muted response from audiences who mostly shunned the film at cinemas and have been quiet about their feelings now it’s on home release. 

Set in a relatively contemporary setting and focused around a group of Mennonite women who must decide if they are too fight or flee from their community after a longstanding series of abuses committed by their communities men forces them to decide their futures, Talking takes it cues from the likes of 12 Angry Men as Polley lets her script and actors take centre stage throughout much of the films runtime that features much scene chewing and equally chewable dialogue. 

There’s no doubt Talking is influenced by the worldwide landscape we live in today and despite the setting Talking very much acts as a mirror into current hot topic issues and is therefore a topical and worthwhile examination of what many women are dealing with in various circumstances but there’s elements of Talking that never combine together in a way one would be expecting, holding Polley’s film back from greatness and a clear reason why that despite Talking’s abundance of tokenistic award nominations, it hasn’t managed to be a breakout hit to other similar weighty films in this years awards crop. 

One glaringly obvious aspect of Talking’s problem to offer up a gut punch emotionally charged narrative its aiming for is the fact that its capable and talented cast are never able to break out in a huge way and while Jessie Buckley’s Mariche is a standout (going alongside Buckley’s turn in the somewhat related Men in 2022 as another reason too why she is set for superstardom), many of the cast including an underused Frances McDormand, fine but unmemorable Rooney Mara and Ben Whishaw and a sadly over the top and distracting Claire Foy as the fired-up Salome don’t help Talking’s cause and desire to be the movie it set out to be. 

Her first fictional directional outing since 2011’s Take This Waltz, Talking reminds us once more that Polley is a talented all-rounder well versed in her artform with Talking neatly put together and often expertly scripted but it’s a shame this potentially unforgettable insight into the female mindset and world is undermanned by an emotional coldness you wouldn’t expect to find here and an inability to connect us with a group of characters that are fascinating on a surface level but mostly underdeveloped by the time the credits roll. 

Final Say – 

Full of star power and heavy themes topical to our day and age, Women Talking is well-intentioned and sporadically powerful drama but one that never reaches the heights you might expect on face value, making it a could’ve been awards contender merely making up numbers before soon disappearing from public mind and memory. 

3 sets of false teeth out of 5 

2 responses to “Film Review – Women Talking (2022)

  1. I’m really surprised it got a nomination in the Best Picture category this year. Did it deserve its Oscar for Adapted Screenplay? I agree with you that it was making up the numbers as an awards contender. I love almost everything Rooney Mara does, but I’m conflicted here.

    • I am not sure how films get into the major category if they are only good enough to make their way into one other area ha, its a tough one!
      Overall most of the films there all deserved to be but be very interesting to see how the Everything sweep is judged in the years to come.

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