Women Talking | Third Space

Women Talking

Do nothing. Stay and fight. Leave.
Thu 26 Jan 2023



3.5 out of 5 stars

Films like Women Talking rip open the considerations of why filmmaking is such an influential medium. Miriam Yoews’ re-imagined retelling of the events that impacted the women of Manitoba Colony, an isolated Mennonite colony in Bolivia, is fascinating and repellant at the same time. As this production contains some of the best actresses of this generation being relegated to one room to hash out the future of every woman in this community, the performances are marvelous while crippling for the soul.

Within this sect of the Mennonite tradition, the women are relegated to servitude and not allowed to be educated. Still, they are taught the scriptures of the Bible, and most have developed a devout faith that establishes their moral centre. When it is discovered that the men of this small society have been using anesthetics to drug and rape the women and girls at night for many years, the women must determine if they will remain and not do anything, stay and fight or merely leave all they have known behind. While the men are away, this leads to a vote amongst the women and the eventual development of a council to determine what the ladies should do with their lives and that of their children.

As a reviewer of cinema, the compelling performances of each actor proved to be definitive for many of their careers. Rooney Mara, Claire Foy, Jessie Buckley, Judith Ivey and Sheila McCarthy each deliver displays of emotion and verbal mastery that complement the whole production without stealing the limelight from the ensemble. Interestingly, one of the best performances was to be the only male representative within the film as Ben Whishaw is allowed to develop into a multi-layered person within this tragic community atmosphere. Sarah Polley’s direction manages to honour the cultural nuances of this religious sect while allowing each individual to develop their own story within this construct. As each layer of the back story unfolds before the viewer, something special is exposed about this combination of talent that deserves recognition.

Yet, while sitting through these magnificent performances, there remained this painful reality that so few audiences will want to endure the pain that gushes from the screen. As the impact of the #MEtoo movement continues to inspire and influence the industry, there is a wonder when the saturation point will occur. Throughout the years, things continue to be exposed as to the vicious nature of abuse hidden within many religious organisations, businesses, and educational facilities. Has the viewing public hit their limit on whether they desire to be entertained by these stories, too? Women Talking should receive accolades as compelling storytelling. Still, it may suffer from being lost in the superabundance of these tales of unfortunate and avoidable woe.

Reel Dialogue: What is the limit on forgiveness?

“What is impossible with man is possible with God.” Luke 18:27

Is there such a thing as an unforgivable sin? One of the many confronting elements of Women Talking has to be the consideration of forgiveness. Can these women forgive the men of the community for perpetrating these horrific actions or should they? Miriam Yoews’ story forces the topic that seeps into the very fabric of this tight-knit community. The author weaves a tale that centres on this question for the ages, how far is too far when it comes to being able to forgive the ones you love.

Interestingly, this is at the heart of the message of the Bible, too. Not just the question of forgiveness within marriage, but more importantly, between God and mankind. Regardless of what we have done against God or others, the God of the Bible is willing to forgive those willing to seek his forgiveness.

You can explore God’s forgiveness: Isaiah 59:1-2, Ephesians 1:7, 2 Timothy 2:13, 1 John 1:9

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