Women Talking

Should they stay or should they go?

We meet a group of women in an isolated religious community-the Mennonite community that takes place in 2010, but looks like a period setting. They’ve been drugged and violated by male colonists, who are being charged. But these women are given three options, based on their faith.

Option 1: Stay and fight.

Option 2: Leave.

Option 3: Do nothing and forgive these rapists.


If they leave, then they’re lead to believe they won’t be welcomed into Heaven.

Rape is evil, so how can these women forgive their attackers?

This is why they have a voting system with the Pros & Cons of each of their limited options.

For example:

Pros for Leaving

They’ll be able to see the world.

Cons for Leaving

They won’t be welcomed to the Kingdom of Heaven.

This is the set-up for “Women Talking,” which is based on Miriam Toews’ novel, which was inspired by true events in Manitoba Colony, Bolivia. Written for the screen and directed by Sarah Polley, the movie is well-acted and made with dialogue that smart women deserve to have. They’re able to speak their minds about the horrors they’ve been through, despite some of the road blocks that threaten them.

Among the cast, Rooney Mara plays the spinster Ona, who is pregnant due to the rape; Jessie Buckley plays Mariche, who is in an abusive marriage; Claire Foy plays Salome, who attacks the rapists for assaulting her daughter; Sheila McCarthy as Mariche’s mother, who’s also a shy thinker with false teeth; Frances McDormand (a producer) plays the conservative matriarch Scarface Jenz; and Ben Whishaw plays the school teacher August Epp, who takes notes and makes lists for the women who can’t read or write.

This is a change to story, as Epp is the only one who can speak English since he was born in the U.K., whereas these Bolivian women can’t. This movie was filmed in Toronto, Canada, made by a Canadian filmmaker like Polley. It makes no disclosure on the movie adaptation’s exact location, so we’re just gonna have to assume that. Or they have it set in Bolivia, where everyone speaks English.

“Women Talking” could have been given its color grading a fixer upper, which makes the film look and feel dated, but it’s the performances and humanity that makes it so riveting. I’m not familiar with Mennonites and their beliefs, but I was able to see their poetic and outspoken acknowledgments that these women may follow a righteous path, but are still women who refuse to be treated like garbage. They’re tired of deal with rape and abuse, and if they live in a harsh environment, then why should they stay here?

I’m not trying to offend any groups; I was just letting you know the situation on my end, and I apologize if I did.

The actors who really levitate are Mara, Foy, Buckley, McCarthy, and Whishaw, because they all use their emotions and aspects on different terms. Mara is more patient, Foy and Buckley use their anger wisely, McCarthy never succumbs to any cliches, and Whishaw keeps his mannerisms at a steady pace. They transition from scene-to-scene, as Polley writes them with consistency and poise.

Producers McDormand, Brad Pitt, Jeremy Kleiner, and Dede Gardner also connect well with the filmmaker in terms of the atmosphere and directions of “Women Talking.” And neither of them are here to try to sell the film. Early criticisms in the trailer were about the color grading, but I suppose the movie shows us its true colors on the inside. You know what they say: “Don’t judge a book by its cover.”

Rating: 3.5 out of 4.

In Select Theaters This Friday

Opens Everywhere January 20

Categories: Drama

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