Film review: Women Talking




One of the most misquoted and misunderstood verses in the Bible is in the book of 1 Corinthians Chapter 14 which states: Let the women keep silent. It’s a verse which has been taken out of context so many times and used to justify male dominance in the Church. It doesn’t mean that women must always be seen and never heard, it’s simply a call for orderly service in the church; read the whole chapter.

I mention this because I recently saw Women Talking. This film has been nominated for the Oscar for Best Picture. It’s one of the best films I’ve seen in a long time. The movie does what it says on the tin, but is powerful, shocking, emotionally draining and poignant. It’s about a group of women having a meeting. The women are part of a rural religious colony where the men, The Elders, have been using this verse and other such verses to not only dominate it over the women but to abuse them in terrible, shocking ways. Rape and incest, it would seem, are only the beginning.

However, not only do we not see any of the violence in this film, nor in fact do we see any of the men, but just the evidence and outcome of their brutality. Cleverly the film makes us think we do. (But then admit it, you thought you saw Bambi’s mum die; you didn’t!) The women are bruised, injured and some are even deformed. We don’t need to see what has been going on in order to get the picture. The bulk of the film is taken up with the women having a secret meeting in a hay loft. They have three options, stay and put up with the abuse, stay and fight back or leave. All of them maintain their strong faith in God and the question is asked several times, what would God want us to do? There is a lot of the Bible quoted and some lovely old hymns are sung.

Helping to bring this story, based on a true one, to vivid life is a stellar cast. Rooney Mara, Frances McDormand, Ben Whishaw and the always wonderful Jessie Buckley. (Having met her I can testify that my last statement is true.) The cast are uniformly amazing and it’s a real injustice that none of them have been nominated for a Best Actress or Best Supporting Actress Oscar. There is no justice!

A low-key score and grey colour palette, which reflects the dire situation that the women are in, all serve to make this a must see.

Having seen all ten films that are up for Best Oscar, and I know how indecisive this sounds, I can truthfully say that I won’t complain which ever one wins. Unless it’s the awful Triangle of Sadness, which made me so sad. All we can do now is wait and see, but while waiting please go and see Women Talking. Like me, you’ll be talking about it for a long time afterwards.

Main photo credit: Fair Usage MGM

Andy Godfrey

Andy Godfrey is a speaker with Outreach UK and has been in full-time Christian work for many years. He is a founding member of the Mark Kermode Appreciation Society and has a collection of nearly 3,000 movies. He’s also an ardent Bristol City fan.

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