London Film Festival 2022: Women Talking – ★★★★★

All London Film Festival 2022 reviews will be written by the wonderfully talented and massive film fan Brigitte Krause. You can follow her on Twitter – @TheBrigitteEdit.

There is something to be said about the timing of both ‘She Said’ and ‘Women Talking’ being released in the year women’s reproductive rights have been under such threat.

The adapted 2018 novel of the same name follows women in an isolated colony shortly after another assault on one of the children. The women started by voting, introducing democracy into a system where a women’s voice didn’t matter. Over two days, we follow the women weighing the pros and cons of staying at the colony over leaving and creating a new world for themselves and their children.

It’s impossible to speak about ‘Women Talking’ and not mention the thoughtful direction by Sarah Polley and the flawless cinematography by Luc Montpellier (Tell Me Lies, Tales from the Loop). It is so precise in its world-building that it is difficult to put into words. You have a sense that there is something else out there, something better, yet their location seems so far removed from society as we know it, it seems equally impossible for them to just run away.

Adding to this already isolating feeling, we have a score by Hildur Guðnadóttir (best known for her Oscar-winning work on The Joker) that layers a moving but haunting sense of folklore over the colony.

When it comes to portraying those characters, every single actress delivers a masterclass in acting. I don’t think I have seen anything quite like it in a long time.

You have Claire Foy, Jessie Buckley and Rooney Mara sharing each of their character’s points of view with such emotion and conviction it’s impossible not to be emotional yourself. Each line is more powerful than the next, with no single moment wasted in ‘Women Talking’.

Furthermore, I would like to mention the national treasure, Ben Whishaw. Who is perfectly cast as the only man allowed to sit with the women during this time, if only to take notes and listen.

My fear about the film is that I don’t know how open people will be to seeing it. It’s a tough watch; the story is hopeful for the future but will require a viewer willing to go through that journey. It would be a shame for people not to seek it out.

‘Women Talking’ is no doubt a towering achievement. It shares a timeless message and delivers one of the best films in 2022.

Directed by: Sarah Polley
Cast: Claire Foy, Rooney Mara, Jessie Buckley, Ben Whishaw, Judith Ivey
Duration: 1h 44 min.

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