Women Talking: The Power Of Good Writing

Trigger Warning: Physical and sexual assault. Please be advised. 

How do you approach a decision when they have been made for you all your life? Do you go against your own beliefs in the risk of a better life? How do you justify leaving those beliefs behind? These are some of the core questions discussed throughout 2022’s Women Talking. While it didn’t hit cinemas until today, it made rounds at film festivals in 2022. I was fortunate enough to attend an advanced screening last night. It was hosted at The Tower Theater in Sacramento by United Artists.

 I had been looking forward to the film since first seeing the trailers. It did not disappoint! It is co-written and directed by Sarah Polley and is adapted from Miriam Toews’s novel of the same name. Toews also co-wrote the screenplay. As I’ve said time and again, it is a great idea to have the original writer in the room when adapting their work for the screen. They understand the characters in ways others can only dream of. The pair of writers are able to pull sympathy from the audience as they write the characters to be relatable, headstrong, and vulnerable. While there is very little introduction before jumping into the meat of the story, we come to understand their intentions and mindsets within a matter of lines. There is a great moment in which Rooney Mara discusses butterflies and dragonflies’ migration. They will never get to see their destination, but their “grandchildren” will. We will return to this moment, but I wanted to bring it up while discussing the writing.

A colony of Protestants is being turned upside down. The men have been brutally attacking the women for years. This includes beatings and sexual assault. To make matters worse, the men have told them it was ghosts and the devil. Finally, a man is caught, and all the dominos fall. All the men leave the colony to assist the guilty parties as they are locked away. While they are away, the women confer to choose what they should do next. They are uneducated and unsure of what’s to come. All they know is they must take action. A handful of women are chosen to meet to make their choice. Do nothing. Stay and fight. Leave.

Tensions rise as each option is explored from the perspective of each character. Those who want to stay use their religion to back up their claims and reasonings. If they leave, they may not be considered for the kingdom of Heaven. The same can’t be said for those who want to fight. Blood is in the water, and sharks are swimming. Those who want to leave have fears of where they may end up. The choice is finally theirs. Are they ready to make it?

The film is stunning. It takes a very head-on approach to how our society reacts to survivors of assault when they come forward. They are pushed away, gaslit, abused, and ultimately disrespected by everyone. Every emotion layered in the performances can be felt as the actors put everything they’ve got into the dedication to their characters. It is plain to see that the passion behind the project is immense. 

While I did enjoy the film, I was left with one question by the end. Were the rest of the women in the colony so used to choices being made for them because of their own feelings of inadequacy, or was their support for any decision supposed to represent how our society blindly follows those in charge in hopes of real change? It is not a large topic discussed, but something that was on my mind as I drove home afterward. Once you have seen the film for yourself, please share your opinion and whether you had the same feelings throughout. I would love to have a proper discussion. Now, I hope you all have a wonderful day. Be kind.

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