Film Review: “Women Talking”


Screengrab from "Women Talking"

“Women Talking” was released on Dec. 3 2022 and was directed by Sarah Polley. The film uncovers a colony of women’s shared experiences of being drugged and raped by men.

Reanne Weil, News Editor

Many years ago, women were neglected and thrown under the rug. They were told what to do, how to do it and when to do it. Film director Sarah Polley’s movie entitled “Women Talking” took viewers back in time and down a sensitive path to address the hardships women encountered in a colony they lived in.

This 2022 drama film is based off a 2018 novel of the same name by author Miriam Toews. Both the movie and book are described as a “imagined response to real events.”

The brave women of a colony encounter vicious rape attacks in which they are led to believe are acts of the devil or ghosts. They were told their entire lives that the “attackers” are ghosts that haunt them in their sleep, acting as a cover-up for the actions of the men in their colony.

Because of their religion, they were taught to forgive those who have hurt them and to never say a word. They grew up without ever asking anything of the men and never complaining.

As the film opens, one of the rapists was identified and taken away by the police. The other men of the colony went to the city to support him, and the women were unable to testify. The men were expected to be away for two days. During that time, eight women from two families met in a hayloft.

The women held numerous meetings discussing the agony, pain and hurt that they go through. In order to save themselves and their children, the women knew they needed to stand up and take action. They never learned how to read or write, but they learned to vote when it came to the decision they needed to make: do nothing, stay and fight or leave.

The film is mostly based in the hayloft where they discussed what to do, which made the plot move a little slow.

The only man who knew what was going on, August (Ben Whishaw), assisted the women in their meetings and helped them write down pros and cons of their decisions. He was a schoolteacher for the boys and experienced the loss of his mother from the attacks.

August and Ona (Rooney Mara) show a love interest for each other, and throughout the film, Ona is pregnant as a result of an attack.

Many of the women also experienced episodes of panic attacks where they’d recall events of their past. The film would show brief, disturbing flashbacks of attacks and the results of them.

In the end, they ultimately choose to hop on buggies and head out to find a better place for themselves. August stays behind and encourages them to never return. The narrator, Clara (Vivien Endicott-Douglas), closes the movie by telling Ona’s newborn that her life will be different.

The movie addressed issues many women were and still are afraid to discuss. It successfully touched the hearts of those watching and wanting a better life for people that experienced a tragedy no one should ever have to go through. Though the plot was slow, it was worth seeing them choose to leave and finally be free.