Women Talking was a film I knew I had to see, the minute I saw the trailer. I also knew from the trailer that this was going to be a hard one to watch, yet it would be so worth it. This movie will also be on my 2023 list of films despite it being considered for Oscars and having a 2022 release date, it wasn’t widely released until January so I am counting it for 2023. Any story of trauma and abuse is going to be difficult to watch regardless of its rating, but what I truly appreciated about this film is that it was very clearly a story told by women.
Now I have explained my stance on this on Tik Tok, my podcast and to anyone and everyone that will listen to me but I am happy to do it again. When abuse and sexual assault is depicted by men it is nearly always graphic, focuses on the abuser and not the abused, and almost always moves on from the abuse rather quickly with no sense of consequence or effect on the abused. When women depict abuse, it's softer, quiet and focuses more on how the abused processes the event and fights to move on and heal, rarely acknowledging the abuser. Men depict violence, women depict trauma. Men center the abuser, women center the abused. And here's why, women write about abuse that has happened to us, it's ours to process, it's our story to tell. Men depict what they have done to us, they have no business making commentary on things they don’t experience (and yes men experience sexual assault too so why don’t you go write about yours and leave ours alone). This film is a prime example of that, its story centers around women figuring out how to save themselves and their daughters from further abuse. It was an emotionally draining experience watching these women fight each other over the best way to protect themselves. I think the storytelling was some of the most brilliant writing I’ve ever seen. I also think that it does an incredible job of showing the complexities of experiencing trauma, escaping your abuser even presented with the opportunity isn’t always an easy decision.
My only true complaint with the film is that they spent an hour and a half establishing that these women are in a literal life or death situation. There was so much urgency in their decision making and in their arguments. The writing did such a beautiful job of building tension. In the last 10 minutes of the film the urgency that was built the entire film seemed to come to a screeching halt. We packed up, we had to be quiet and quick and then all the buggies lined up and the children were playing and no one was moving and people were taking their sweet time to get to the buggies….no one seemed concerned about the actual leaving part of the plan. That was really the only thing that killed it for me, I would have liked them to carry the urgency through the end of the film. That said it ended with hope, almost 2 hours of heartbreak and trauma ended with hope. That in of itself was so profound and beautiful.
Overall the movie was a 9/10, point off for re-watchability. I think this is a film you have to see, it's necessary, it is required viewing but I think that unless you are a glutton for emotional punishment it's a difficult re-watch. I think the film should be studied in film and screenwriting classes, it was so well written.
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