I’m Your Woman is the kind of film I want to love. When I watched the trailer, what grabbed me was the concept, a criminal’s wife on the run with her infant baby and no idea of what’s happening. What I loved is that in the movie the main character goes from being a frightened survivor to a strong woman taking control. The last half of the film is packed with drama with superb performances from the entire cast.
Directed by Julia Hart, from a screenplay by Hart and Jordan Horowitz, I’m Your Woman stars Rachel Brosnahan as Jean, wife of Eddy (Bill Heck). Jean goes on the run with her infant baby when her husband, a criminal, betrays his business partner. Assisted by an associate of her husband, Cal (Arinzé Kene), Jean is tracked by men hunting her husband. When Cal hides her away at a cabin in the woods, she meets his wife, Teri (Marsha Stephanie Blake), Cal’s father Art (Frankie Faison) as well as his son Paul. As Jean moves from frightened survivor to asking questions, she and Teri must work together to find a solution to the trouble they’re both in.
This film defies pigeonholing, bringing a unique perspective to the typical crime drama. Instead of focusing on the criminal, it revolves around the collateral damage to the criminal’s family when things fall apart. Eddy is confident, thinking he can control the situation, and has left his wife, Jean, with very little in the way of tools for when things do go bad. The first half of the film is Jean coming to grips with the situation and trying to figure out the next step. The problem is she doesn’t have all the information or the skills because her husband has kept so much from her, though she is aware he is a criminal. As the film moves forward, she learns how to cope, how to ask questions, and learns the full truth about the situation her husband has put her in. And that different perspective is what makes the film dynamic. Jean’s fight ends up being about saving her child, Harry, and her role as a mother is what makes the plot so rich and authentic.
Another aspect that is incredibly well thought out is the costumes and set design. The film is set in the seventies and a lot of attention to detail has gone into every little element. The phones are the ones I grew up with, handheld clunky phones. The clothing matches the time period perfectly. Even Jean’s actions match the time period, especially her role as a housewife. When she and Cal are stopped by the police while on the road, the attitude of the police officer toward a black man with a white woman is accurate to that period of time. Everything is in sync, including the vehicles on the road. That level of detail is part of what helps the film be so immersive.
What truly brings the film to life is the performances. Rachel Brosnahan is gifted, embodying her character superbly with a powerful performance. Every nuance of her acting makes her believable as a scared housewife who grows into a strong, capable woman who protects those she loves. She is convincing as a mother who wants to take care of her child above all. The dynamic and subtle humor between her and Arinzé Kene as they interact in a taut situation, full of danger is nuanced. Arinzé Kene is compelling as Cal, his performance quiet and intense. Marsha Stephanie Blake is like a breath of fresh air when she takes the screen, her and Rachel’s chemistry potent. The relationship between the two women is the strongest in the movie and Marsha Stephanie Blake’s portrayal is excellent, providing a charismatic foil to Rachel Brosnahan’s character. Frankie Faison also provides a rich performance, portraying his character as wise and caring.
The only element that causes the film to lag is the pacing. The first half of the film is slow with setting up who Jean and Eddy are and Jean’s flight with Harry. A great deal of time is spent with Jean in hiding doing nothing more than caring for Harry, which while it sets up a great deal of information about the character, fails to give the audience a way to stay engaged in the film. Once we are halfway through the film and have met Teri, the film picks up, both in the intrigue and the action. It almost feels like there are two movies, one that is about how Jean learns to take care of Harry and the action-packed, dramatic, intrigued filled crime drama. While the exceptional performances kept me engaged, I would have enjoyed the film much more with about a third of the setup. Even so, I love the characters, I love the ending, and as a different type of crime drama, this film excels.
If you like crime dramas from a different point of view and you love superb performances, this is a film worth watching. The second half of the film is amazing. As the action picks up, you see Jean grow and develop the skills that will help her protect her family. She is a fascinating character and the secondary characters are rich and dynamic as well. Teri’s character is full of humor along with Art, Cal’s father. Cal’s character is intense but caring. It is the characters that make me like this film and by the time you reach the ending, you fall in love with Jean.
Rating: 4 out of 5 cars.
I’m Your Woman will be released into theaters and Amazon Prime on Friday, December 11, 2020.