Women Talking (2022) - 9/10
There’s a lot to unpack with Women Talking. An isolated religious community, where women discover they are being raped while they sleep, are faced with a choice… of sorts. Except the situation and go about their old fashioned conservative lives with horse drawn carriages and suppression or leave and deny themselves entry into a heaven they’ve grown up believing in. There is a third option. Fight and that’s what Women Talking is all about. Uneducated and scared they might be, but ignorant they’re not. Faced with a tied vote, a group are chosen to convene and make the choice for the women of the colony. Secretly holed up in a barn, the opinions are wide ranging, from Salome’s (Claire Foy) anger to Janz’s (Frances McDormand) insistence that they forgive to please god. We get snippets of their world through recollection, narration from young Autje (Kate Hallet) and interactions between the wonderfully nuanced characters. Ona (Rooney Mara) is the stand out in what’s a stellar cast. Calmly proposing a new order, one that sounds like utopia compared to where they find themselves. She’s decried as a dreamer by Mariche (Jessie Buckley), until asked what will happen if the men won’t allow this idea. Still smiling, still calm, “We’ll kill them”. Faced with a black or white decision. The story offers a much deeper debate as the women philosophically discuss, laugh, shout, reason and bound together, find strength. Find power. It’s a heady mix of melancholy and pain. Rich despite its sparseness. Mara is especially brilliant, nearly everyone is. Ben Whishaw too as August, the only man we get to know. Honestly though, this is masterful, with so many brilliant performances in such a simple, yet layered and truly devastating story, with a finale that will raise the hairs. “Your story will be different from ours”. It speaks way beyond the barn and the colony. Powerfully emotive and absolutely brilliant.