Films at the Fox: Women Talking features excellent performances and solid screenplay

Women Talking will be screened at the Fox Theatre on Queen Street East in the Beach on the afternoon of Thursday, March 23.

Local student Brady Burkett shares his reviews of movies that have recently been shown, or will be shown, at the Fox Theatre on Queen Street East in the Beach.

By BRADY BURKETT

I greatly appreciate when a movie has a solid title, and Women Talking has one of my favourites. It’s simple, catchy, and describes the film to absolute perfection: it is about women talking. You will know exactly what you are getting into when you enter the theatre to see it, and if you are disappointed with what you get, that’s on you for expecting more than women talking out of a film entitled Women Talking.

It’s a title so good that it makes reviewing the film kind of superfluous, if you read reviews of movies in order to learn whether or not you should go see a movie. If 100 minutes of women talking sounds like an experience you will enjoy, then go see it, and if it does not, then do not go see it.

Alas, I do need to describe my thoughts on this movie in some detail in order for this to be properly called a “review”, and so here we are. Women Talking tells the story of a group of women living in an isolated religious colony, who discover that at night the men of the colony have been drugging and raping them. The men must all leave the colony in order to settle the charge in court, and so the women are left for one day. They spend the day discussing whether they should do nothing, stay and fight, or simply leave, and that is the entire movie.

Some of the greatest works of art I’ve ever seen are mainly dialogue-driven, but the difficulty with such art is that it is always going to be a little worse than the dialogue that it is driven by. A dialogue-driven movie with mediocre dialogue would be utterly insufferable and boring to watch, whereas something with utterly transcendent dialogue (like the immaculate 12 Angry Men) would be excellent.

The dialogue in Women Talking is really good, and thus the movie itself ends up being good. There are one or two awkward moments (“We women are talking…”) but it’s overall sharp, fast, and solid.

That said, something like this should not slack in the filmmaking department (12 Angry Men is also directed incredibly) and the question of whether Women Talking does or doesn’t is a complicated one.

The editing is a mixed bag. It decides to rather frequently flash back to certain things that the women are talking or thinking about, and this sometimes works and sometimes does not. When used for the sake of illustrating a character’s mental state, it works quite well, but when used to show us a story already being told to us, I would have preferred that the camera remained with the character without feeling the need to spell out to the audience everything.

The cinematography is a similar mixed bag. Many of the shots are very clearly extremely well-thought-out and work well symbolically, but the film fails spectacularly at being actively pleasant to look at. The washed-out greys and browns that make up Women Talking’s colour palette succeed at making everything look dirty and grim, but fail to please the eye. It is possible to make a film look bleak without making it look ugly (this year’s All Quiet on the Western Front managed to convey the dismal tone while looking downright beautiful), and this movie absolutely fails at that.

The ending is also of note as a criticism, as it seems to reach a natural and extremely fitting end point before unexpectedly continuing for a couple of scenes that really do not add much to the overall story that could easily have been cut.

On top of this, I would rather the ultimate decision be more of an actual argument with the resolution being up in the air for longer, but about halfway through the film the decision becomes obvious and the audience is sort of just left waiting for the stragglers to finally take the proper side.

I know it sounds like I’m being overly negative, but I promise that this is still a good movie. The strengths just sort of speak for themselves. It has excellent performances and a really solid screenplay with a few flaws, the overall package being slightly brought down by mediocre overall direction.

Still, the statement that I made at the beginning of this review holds true: if women talking for 100 minutes sounds like something that you would enjoy, then go see it. If it does not, then do not. I’m sure it is a decision much simpler than the one that these women have to make.

I give it a rating of 7 out of 10.

The Fox Theatre is located at 2236 Queen St. E. Women Talking is scheduled to be screened on Thursday, March 23, at 4:20 p.m. For more information on upcoming films playing at the Fox, please visit https://www.foxtheatre.ca

EDITOR’S NOTE: Brady Burkett is a local resident and high school student. The opinions in the reviews are his, and the reviews are not sponsored or vetted by the Fox Theatre.


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