I’m Your Woman, 2020.
Directed by Julia Hart.
Starring Rachel Brosnahan, Marsha Stephanie Blake, Arinzé Kene, Bill Heck, Frankie Faison, Marceline Hugot, De’Mauri Parks, Jarrod DiGiorgi, and James McMenamin.
In this 1970s set crime drama, a woman is forced to go on the run after her husband betrays his partners, sending her and her baby on a dangerous journey.
At first, it feels like there is a mystery to solve at the center of I’m Your Woman (the latest from writer and director Julia Hart once again collaborating with her husband Jordan Horowitz), but the longer the film goes on it becomes increasingly clear that whatever crime the men involved in the story have gotten themselves into over their lives is irrelevant; it’s about two women coming together and dealing with those sins that have fucked them over for good and left thumb on the run and hiding out.
I’m Your Woman is also about finding independence and female empowerment in the most extreme scenarios, as Jean (a stellar Rachel Brosnahan that perfectly calculates the transformation of her character into helpless and vulnerable to resourceful and deceptive and finally to a capable survivor in her own right) somewhat lives a cushy life hanging out in the backyard while her career thief husband Eddie (Bill Heck) steals whatever his gangster bosses want. On the side, he lifts vanity items for Jean like glamorous coats in addition to giving her a luxurious home (the 1970’s art decorum is always pleasant to look at, as is the production design in general), but he hasn’t given her the things she wants most yet, a child. Out of the blue that all changes as he comes home one day with an infant and no real explanation as to how we got in possession of the child, making up for it with enough reassurance that it’s for the greater good and that everything will be fine.
A subsequent sudden turn of events sees a friend of Eddie’s showing up to the family home panicking and talking of the job gone wrong, emphasizing that she needs to take baby Harry and get as far away from their residence as possible with the assistance of a former associate of Eddie named Cal (Arinzé Kene). The drive off into the night and he sets her up with a new home strictly drilling into her head that she mustn’t reveal her identity to anyone. Clearly, Jean is in way over her head as she’s struggling to cook simple meals, let alone stay out of sight from criminals inexplicably hunting her down. In a moment of frustration, Jean starts repeatedly throwing eggs against the wall, a tricky scene to pull off, balancing the dark humor of it all with the empathy for her unfortunate situation. It doesn’t help that she, obviously, can’t breastfeed the child, something that Cal notices but doesn’t put together that it’s not actually her child as he just assumes she’s uncomfortable doing it around him.
Much to Jean’s surprise, Cal is fairly skillful at relaxing Harry. This comes to make more sense as his own wife, father, and child are introduced into the story, with each of them instilling in Jean a necessary tool to potentially come out of this living nightmare alive. One impressive character touch in I’m Your Woman is watching Jean go from lucking her way through lies to law enforcement to quickly picking up on not only how to lie better, but how to pick up on other people that might not be who they say they are. This is all the basis of an intense set piece in the middle that is everything from action-packed to shockingly grim, demonstrating that no one is safe in this narrative.
The heart of the story is the burgeoning connection between Jean and Cal’s wife Teri (Marsha Stephanie Blake), with Jean pushing herself to enter dangerous environments and take control of her own destiny. Similar to Julia Hart’s recent underappreciated minor superhero effort Fast Color, I’m Your Woman slows itself down during the second act, this time exploring themes of family, parenthood, and betrayal. It goes without saying that Eddie has played an integral part in both of their lives, and watching them unpack that together is both meaningful although a somewhat frustrating departure from the stylistic suspension throughout.
There are answers to all of the natural questions that will come up about the story as it goes on, but it’s not the focus and done so cleverly without shifting perspectives. The script (co-written with Jordan Horowitz) never forgets that it’s a story about these two women, specifically Jean, reckoning with the mistakes of men. In the process, there is a vigorous evolution of character that Rachel Brosnahan charges with precision.
I’m Your Woman will be available to all Amazon Prime members on December 11th.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★
Robert Kojder is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Critics Choice Association. He is also the Flickering Myth Reviews Editor. Check here for new reviews, follow my Twitter or Letterboxd, or email me at MetalGearSolid719@gmail.com