Women Talking

Verdict: Claire Foy and Jessie Buckley are outstanding in this riveting, thought-provoking drama

  • Jessie Buckley, Rooney Mara, Claire Foy, Frances McDormand
  • February 10th 2023
  • Sarah Polley

Claire Foy, Rooney Mara, and Jessie Buckley debate the best course of action for women in their community after a series of attacks.

Sarah Polley’s ensemble drama Women Talking is currently nominated for the Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay Oscars. So, what’s it all about?

The film, which is described as an imagined response to real-life events, is set within a deeply religious community (they are Mennonites in Miriam Toews’ novel) where the women and girls are systemically drugged and raped by the men in their sleep.

After the latest incident, the men leave the colony for 48 hours to post bail for the attackers, and the women use this time to vote on what they should do – stay and do nothing, stay and fight, or leave.

After there is a tie between leave, and stay and fight, several women gather in a hayloft to debate the pros and cons of the options and make a definitive decision.

Women Talking does exactly what you might expect – it is a film about women sitting down and talking.

It feels like a play because it is dialogue-heavy and set in one location.

This might not appeal to some people but the topic of the discussion is powerful and important and the performances are outstanding.

The debate is really interesting because the women have different positions which are rigorously explored.

Frances McDormand’s Janz wants to stay and do nothing, Salome (Claire Foy) is livid and opts to put up a fight, while pregnant Ona (Rooney Mara) wants them to calmly weigh up the costs and benefits, with her friend August (Ben Whishaw) taking the minutes as the women can’t read or write.

Jessie Buckley’s Mariche is an angry, explosive, disruptive person who shoots down the other women’s ideas without pitching any of her own – but you learn why she is like this later on.

Buckley and Foy are sensational in their showy, standout roles, while Whishaw gives a touching, emotional supporting performance.

Women Talking sounds like a gruelling, or dull, watch – but it is riveting, thought-provoking and very moving.

It really drives home the importance of women getting an education and young boys being taught to treat women differently from men.

You will be shocked when you find out what year this is set in midway through the movie. Mind-blowing stuff.

Previews in selected cinemas from Friday 10th February, with a wider rollout from 17th February.

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