It’s no less than Jessica Chastain who serves as the eponymous woman at the heart of Susanna White’s latest TIFF premiere (which will next screen at this month’s Tribeca Film Festival, before opening this summer), a historical drama that follows the fascinating true story of portrait painter Caroline (also known as Catherine) Weldon (Chastain). The activist and artist dedicated her life to helping Native Americans, and in the summer of 1889, she decamped for Dakota Territory to live among the people she was so passionate about helping.
White’s film is mostly occupied with chronicling Weldon’s friendship with Sitting Bull (Michael Greyeyes) and how it eventually led to her painting his portrait and her closer involvement with the native people during a time of tremendous pain and pressure. The film’s first trailer follows that bond, including a heart-pounding build-up to what looks to be an explosive showdown between the Native Americans and a group of encroaching soldiers (including an appropriately menacing Sam Rockwell).
At TIFF, our David Ehrlich wrote of Chastain’s full-bodied performance that “no contemporary American screen actress has more consistently — or more forcefully — used her platform to champion feminist ideals, and Chastain’s performance is a worthy addition to the cause. As portrayed here, Catherine is headstrong and full of heart; she’s a smart woman who’s been liberated from her late husband and refuses to ‘know her place.'”
Check out the first trailer for “Woman Walks Ahead” below. The film premieres on DIRECTV on May 31 and in theaters on June 29.