‘Women Talking’ Premiere: Sarah Polley on Drama’s Timeliness

‘Women Talking’ Premiere: Sarah Polley on Drama’s Timeliness

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When it comes to difficult subjects, “Women Talking,” Sarah Polley’s 2018 adaptation of Miriam Toews’ novel, is as disturbing as it gets. The film follows a group of women in an isolated religious colony who must decide whether to stay or leave after experiencing unimaginable sexual violence. The true events took place in a Mennonite colony in Bolivia, where women and girls were repeatedly drugged and raped over the course of four years.

At the film’s premiere Thursday night at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Los Angeles, composer Hildur Guðnadóttir told Variety that the film’s subjects were so disturbing that it took her a while to begin working on the film’s haunting score.

“I was really angry and sad on behalf of these women and what was done to them and it kind of paralyzed me,” said Guðnadóttir. “I didn’t even come close to writing music for it because I was so angry. I didn’t want to make music, I just wanted to hit someone.”

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But in the end, Guðnadóttir said she learned from the characters in the film, who depend on each other to heal from the trauma they suffered.

“I realized during the process that leaning on hope and community is a much more effective way to actually go about it,” said Guðnadóttir.

“Women Talking” may seem especially relevant in the wake of Iran’s ongoing human rights crises and limited access to abortion in the US, but writer-director Sarah Polley told Variety that’s just part of the movie’s importance in 2022.

“Unfortunately, I don’t think there’s a point where this movie would be irrelevant in any way,” said Polley. “I think having a conversation about what we want to see and the world we want to build is really interesting right now because so many things are going horribly wrong for women. But I think it’s an opportunity to explain what we hope and expect and deserve to see in terms of fairness and justice.”

The film stars Jessie Buckley, Claire Foy, Rooney Mara, Ben Whishaw and Frances McDormand (who also produces) as members of the isolated religious community. Foy commented on the cast’s tight bond across generations and experience levels.

“There’s so much I’ve learned from the younger generation, I’ve learned so much and from across the board,” Foy shared Variety. “There was such a wealth of talent and knowledge and wisdom and generosity. We all shared and we all supported each other and honestly I can’t say how good it was.”

Sheila McCarthy, an old Polley’s co-worker who plays the wise and witty older Greta, shared Variety that she hopes the film will inspire viewers with courage.

“I just hope that if one person can share their story with another person, it’s just about telling someone, it brings about a change,” McCarthy said. “That’s what the takeaway for this movie is – the hope to do that. Have the guts to do that.”

“Women Talking” will be in cinemas from December 2.

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