Should violence against women beget violence against their men assailants?
The trailer for “Women Talking” captures Rooney Mara, Claire Foy, Jessie Buckley, Frances McDormand, Judith Ivey, and Sheila McCarthy debating what steps should be taken about the rampant rape in their remote religious community. Ben Whishaw also stars. Based on Miriam Toews’ novel, “Women Talking” marks Sarah Polley’s first film since her 2012 autobiographical documentary “Stories We Tell” and her first narrative feature since 2011’s “Take This Waltz.” Given the subject matter, this proved among Polley’s most challenging films to date.
“We had a therapist on set for the more difficult scenes,” Polley told IndieWire. “She’s this woman named Doctor Laurie Haskell who specializes in trauma after sexual assault. Hard stuff came up for a lot of people, not just cast and crew. It’s not just that we were showing violent scenes. We were bringing up thoughts and feelings and emotions that a lot of people had been living with for a long time. Some of those conversations made their way into the film.”
Oscar-nominated screenwriter Polley previously opened up about her troubling experience as a child actress traumatized on the set of director Terry Gilliam’s “The Adventures of Baron Munchausen” while filming action sequences. The abuse of power on set led to production being beholden to “wild, ambitious impulses” from Gilliam and an at times unsafe atmosphere, according to Polley, especially for an 8-year-old.
“I love Terry Gilliam movies. I refuse to think of him as a monster,” Polley told IndieWire. “I don’t think he is. I think he screwed up a lot of stuff, and he hasn’t taken responsibility for it, and that sucks. But he also had great qualities and made beautiful work. I just feel like I’m interested in having a conversation with him and hearing his perspective on what he saw. I would hope that he’d listen to mine.”
“Women Talking” made its international premiere at 2022 TIFF, followed by appearing in the NYFF Spotlight section.
IndieWire critic David Ehrlich wrote in his A- review of the film: “‘Women Talking’ is such a visceral and commanding ode to the stories we tell ourselves — and the stories that women share with each other — that it’s destined to be more alive in our memories than it ever was before our eyes. […] Polley’s film is playing the long game. It’s scouring deep within itself and along the horizon in search of the strength to envision a better tomorrow — one more dependent on compassion than a unilateral power that needs subjects over which it can prove itself.”
“Women Talking” premieres in select theaters December 2 and nationwide December 25 from United Artists Releasing.
Check out the trailer below.