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'Women Talking' Review: Sarah Polley's STUNNING drama about freedom, faith and survival

From epic performances to super writing, 'Women Talking' is a moving portrait of freedom and survival
Jessie Buckley, Claire Foy, Rooney Mara, and Judith Ivey in 'Women Talking' (Universal Pictures)
Jessie Buckley, Claire Foy, Rooney Mara, and Judith Ivey in 'Women Talking' (Universal Pictures)

If you go into human history, you'll find a lot of examples of when women have to stand up and take extreme steps to make their voices heard. Whether it was voting rights or human rights, women had to suffer a lot and there were times when they didn't even flinch an eye before sacrificing things for the betterment of their community. This is what Sarah Polley's new movie 'Women Talking' is all about. 

The drama focuses on the lives of women who are being drugged and sexually abused during the night and are made to believe that this is the punishment for all the misdeeds they have done in their lives. They are also made to feel that a super entity is doing that. However, one night, two young girls manage to see a man trying to do the heinous crime, and scream. After that night, several men are arrested and while the men are gone, a certain section of women gather up to decide what their next step should be. Should they forgive the men? Or should they stay in the village and fight? However, the most extraordinary step that they think of is that all the women should gather and leave the village with their children. A lot of women were not ready for that, but they had to talk about it because it was a matter of life and death for them. 


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Ben Whishaw, Rooney Mara, and Claire Foy in 'Women Talking' (Universal Pictures)
Ben Whishaw, Rooney Mara, and Claire Foy in 'Women Talking' (Universal Pictures)

The movie begins with a really interesting line that reads: "this story ends before you were born". This line might mean nothing to many people of this generation, but it feels like hope for the future generation. These women have 48 hours to decide the fate of women living in the village and decide if they want to have a dignified life or if they just want to sacrifice their happiness forever. The conversation that happens next features a strong cast like Claire Foy, Jessie Buckley, Rooney Mara, Frances McDormand and others. The only person saying to do something drastic in this situation is Salome (Foy), who is willing to kill anyone who touches her or her children. As soon as you hear her, you can see the pain in her voice. She doesn't want to endure any more pain and that's what the movie is all about. Women fighting for their lives and self-respect.

The title is appropriate and it focuses on women talking about what to do next. The best part of this conversation is that it's riveting in every freaking sense. Sarah Polley has done extraordinary work in stitching a story that is awe-inspiring and forces you to spark a thought-provoking dialogue. Her earlier works have been amazing, but 'Women Talking' feels like she was ready to strike gold with it and she did exactly that. The conversation is enthralling and keeps you hooked to your screens. It also makes you wonder what decision these women will be taking for themselves and most importantly, for their children, especially daughters. They don't want them to go through the same pain. The writing is spellbinding and perfectly captures the joys and sorrows of women who have had enough of almost everything.

The haunting and powerful score Hildur Gudnadottir makes these conversations even more powerful.

Claire Foy as Salome in 'Women Talking' (Universal Pictures)
Claire Foy as Salome in 'Women Talking' (Universal Pictures)

The entire cast of 'Women Talking' is outstanding. Buckley, Mara, McDormand, Ben Whishaw, Judith Ivey, and Michelle McLeod are outstanding in their respective roles. However, it is Foy who completely leaves you in awe. She gives a scintillating performance and shatters you with her words and actions.

It took Polley 10 years to return to the art of filmmaking and she has completely stunned everyone with 'Women Talking'. It is an extraordinary story about women taking their future into their own hands and going to a place where they are not governed by men. 'Women Talking' is a spectacular look at female empowerment and women's rights.

Hands down, the best movie of the London Film Festival so far.