James Jay Edwards reviews I’m Your Woman, a neo-noir crime drama film directed by Julia Hart and starring Rachel Brosnahan. (Amazon Prime)
A few years back, there was a terrific feminist revisionist western called The Keeping Room written by Julia Hart (but directed by Harry Brown’s Daniel Barber) that, unfortunately, kind of flew under the radar. Since then, Hart has been directing her own scripts with Miss Stevens, Fast Color, and Stargirl. And now, she’s got another: I’m Your Woman.
Set in the seventies, I’m Your Woman is about a young mother named Jean (Rachel Brosnahan from The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel) who is married to a career criminal named Eddie (Locke & Key’s Bill Heck). One night, Eddie doesn’t return from a job, and Jean is told by his associate, Cal (Arinzé Kene from How to Build a Girl), to grab the baby and a bag of money, and follow his directions. Confused, Jean does as he says, which leads her on a weird journey during which she bonds with Cal’s wife, Teri (Marsha Stephanie Blake from Orange is the New Black), as the two women fight to save their husbands … and themselves.
(I’m Your Woman, official poster, Courtesy of Amazon Studios)
With a script co-written by Hart and Jordan Horowitz (who also co-wrote Hart’s other directorial features), I’m Your Woman is essentially a complete and total throwback to the classic seventies crime movie. It’s partially a revenge movie, but it’s also a hideout movie, and even a bit of a heist movie. What it is not, thankfully, is a love story; the warts in both the Jean-Eddie and the Teri-Cal relationships are shown in detail, and while there is clearly loyalty, there’s not a lot of love. And that’s okay. These men are criminals, after all.
Just because it’s a seventies throwback does not mean that it leans into its nostalgia, though. The movie has the music and fashions of the decade, but the story could be dropped into any time period and still make sense. And none of that music or fashion is used in a kitsch way to shout “Hey look! We’re in the seventies!” to the audience. And that’s refreshing. It’s not a period piece, it just happens to be set during a particular time period.
(Marsha Stephanie Blake and Rachel Brosnahan in I’m Your Woman; Photo: Wilson Webb, Courtesy of Amazon Studios)
As was the case with The Keeping Room, Julia Hart throws an empowering twist into the movie without making her female leads feel overly-powerful. Basically, she makes them real. While Jean and Teri both stand by their men and come to their rescue when needed, they are not superheroes. The experienced and hardened Teri is a bit more badass, but the sheltered Jean needs to be taught how to even hold a gun properly. Not action heroes, but not damsels-in-distress either. Real women.
The violence in I’m Your Woman is real, too. It’s brutal, but in many ways, it’s more emotional than physical. Sure, there’s a body count, and some of the graphic stuff happens onscreen, but most of the violence is implied, showing the viewer the aftermath and leaving the nastier bits to the imagination. Just like most seventies crime movies.
(Arinzé Kene stars in I’m Your Woman; Photo: Wilson Webb, Courtesy of Amazon Studios)
Julia Hart is quietly becoming one of the most consistent and prolific directors in New Hollywood. While her movies are not instant classics, they are inherently watchable. And, who knows? If she keeps making movies with as much energy as I’m Your Woman, a classic from her may be on the horizon.
I’m Your Woman is streaming on Amazon Prime.