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Women Talking [HOH] 15

Sarah Polley, USA, 2022, 104m.

This is an open captioned screening for the hard of hearing.

In a remote Mennonite community, women have been waking from sleep bruised and battered, some are pregnant. Religious leaders argue it’s God’s punishment for their sins. But when one wakes to find an attacker in her room, the horrible truth comes out. In a sunlit barn, the women debate: will they stay, as is expected, and forgive their attackers? Fury, fear, resignation, obedience, hope – each woman, though dressed alike in the unadorned style of the community, expresses a different view. Sarah Polley’s direction is perfectly calibrated and precise, with the flow of speech choreographed, and delivered like a dance by her gifted cast (Frances McDormand, Jessie Buckley, Rooney Mara, Claire Foy, to name a few). Despite their lack of formal education, the women are sharply articulate; big ideas, explored in intimate spaces. And while their experience is culturally specific, the film speaks universally.

The Garden Cinema View: Women Talking is staged yet utterly cinematic, due to its elliptical dialogue, choreographed performances, and brilliant cinematography. Similar to Lars von Trier's Dogville, details are vague, making the thematic premise clearer: what should these women, abused by the men of their community, do? "Stay and fight", "leave" or "nothing"? The film makes the point that there's no singular answer to abuse - liberation comes from the act of speaking. With an all-star female cast who do not compete for attention, the dialogue-heavy script is carried with humour and grace.

Rooney Mara, Claire Foy, Jessie Buckley, Ben Whishaw

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