Movie: I’M YOUR WOMAN
Rating: R, violence and language
Release Date: December 11, 2020
Jeanne: I so wanted to like I’M YOUR WOMAN, but alas, I did not. It’s a stupid title based on a line from Michael Mann’s 1981 THIEF in which Tuesday Weld says to James Caan “I’m your woman and you’re my man.”
I’M YOUR WOMAN is directed by Julia Hart, who also co-wrote the screenplay with her husband Jordan Horowitz. Mr. Horowitz produced the movie with Rachel Brosnahan, who stars as Jean, a suburban homemaker in the 1970s. It’s a very female-driven effort, which is positive, but at two hours, I’M YOUR WOMAN’s unwieldy script doesn’t support the time commitment.
Jean is married to Eddie (Bill Heck), who supports their comfortable lifestyle as a career thief. One day he unceremoniously brings home a baby boy and presents him to Jean as their new child. It’s unclear until later where Eddie got said baby, but Jean accepts him as hers --- and names him Harry. Soon after, Eddie disappears and a former colleague, Cal (Arinzé Kene), is sent to take Jean and Harry to a safe house.
She is instructed to stay inside and keep to herself. A phone is kept in the nightstand and Cal gives Jean a number to call --- but only in the case of an emergency. She’s never been alone before --- remember this is the 70s and she probably went from her parents’ home to Eddie’s --- but I digress.
The lonely widow, Evelyn (Marceline Hugot), who lives two doors down, takes pity on poor Jean --- and she ends up paying for it dearly when a couple of thugs come to call looking for Jean and the baby. Saved by Cal once again, this time he takes Jean and Harry to his family home --- a rustic cabin way off the beaten path.
He leaves Jean again, but this time his wife, Teri (Marsha Stephanie Blake), shows up to care for her along with her young son, Paul (Da’ Mauri Parks), and Cal’s aging father (Frankie Faison). When Cal doesn’t return, Teri and Jean leave the boys behind in search of Cal in the dark underworld inhabited by Eddie.
It all sounds pretty decent until we get to the actual execution of this plot. First, as I have written, it is the 70s, so why would Eddie’s cronies send a Black man, Cal, to rescue a white woman --- with a baby, no less. I realize everyone is striving for diversity, but this makes absolutely no sense. If you are trying to protect someone, calling attention to yourselves as a mixed-race couple isn’t the way to do it. For me, this is a huge flaw --- and only one of many.
After leaving the first safe house with nothing, Jean and Cal must stop to purchase supplies and then fall asleep on the side of the road. They are awakened by a state trooper who is convinced that Jean is with Cal unwillingly. When she claims that Cal is her husband, the officer is in disbelief, but finally allows them to go on their way.
Hart, who is a big fan of crime dramas of the 70s as evidenced by her title choice, has had a penchant for making a film about the mostly unseen women of this genre. Jean represents to her the female characters who are left behind in those movies, and she wants I’M YOUR WOMAN to tell the story of a wife whose criminal husband has abandoned her to fend for herself and her baby, thus showing her newfound strength and determination.
Unfortunately, the writing misses the mark and what we are left with is a script that offers very little tension and a storyline that is convoluted and all over the place. Most annoying is Hart’s usage of her camera. At times, she lingers so long on a specific shot --- maybe a close-up of Jean staring off into space --- that I thought I was watching a Terrence Malick film. (Not really though, because Hart just isn’t that good.)
Brosnahan, best known for the Amazon series “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”, is quite captivating and capable of carrying this movie. I also really like Blake and Kene, but once again the actors can only do so much with a script that is lacking.
The absolute best scene features Jean in the back seat of a car belonging to club owner, White Mike (James McMenamin), after she’s kidnapped. It’s reminiscent of a scene from RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK. But it’s not enough to save this film.
Opinion: WAIT FOR VOD
David: Rachel Brosnahan is widely known as a comedic actress after several seasons as the title character in the hit Amazon series “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”. But she also is no stranger to drama. In I’M YOUR WOMAN, she plays a very blonde Jean, an enigmatic married woman whose persona slowly unravels to reveal a much stronger person than we originally presumed --- emphasis on “slowly”.
This film commits an unforgiving sin for a violent “crime drama” with a female protagonist in grave danger --- it is quite boring. Writer/director Julia Hart and her co-writer/husband Jordan Horowitz wanted a story revolving around a woman who takes charge of her surroundings when past films of this genre have pushed the female characters into the background. I’M YOUR WOMAN has succeeded in this goal, but there is precious little suspense. Whatever excitement we experience is either preceded or followed by long, slow moments, as Jeanne mentions, with one of the characters gazing thoughtfully into the distance.
Jean’s chief companion throughout the entire two hours is actually an adorable baby. Early on, her husband Eddie (Bill Heck) --- we learn he is a lifelong criminal --- walks into their home holding the child. Jean’s first question is to ask what his name is --- a rather odd initial query. Shouldn’t something like --- oh I don’t know --- “where did you get the baby?” be her most obvious first thought?
It is soon revealed that Jean suffered a miscarriage, so we are meant to accept that she doesn’t really care where the baby comes from, and maybe doesn’t even want to know. Of course, they bond instantly, and the baby turns out to be the highlight of I’M YOUR WOMAN.
Another sketchy writing scene has Jean hiding out from Eddie’s criminal contacts who are after her and a tidy sum of cash she has in a satchel. When she flees her hiding space for a nearby house, she encounters two thugs holding an elderly woman hostage. It appears the brutes are intent on killing both Jean and the hostage when Cal (Arinzé Kene) bursts in and rescues Jean. Cal was originally sent by Eddie’s associates to protect Jean, but it is questionable how he knew where to find her.
The only sequence that generates any real excitement takes place in a nightclub where gunfire erupts and the 400 extras stampede madly to find safety. This horrific episode is all too familiar with our American history of mass shootings. To the filmmakers’ credit, the violence depicted in their movie is largely implied, meaning we see dead bodies after the fact. What we don’t need these days is blood-splattering mayhem.
At this point if you’re curious about what happens to the baby and its illegally adoptive mother then you’ll have to tune in to Amazon Prime for
I’M YOUR WOMAN. I can’t recommend that, however, as I struggled to stay awake for two hours.
Opinion: DON’T BOTHER!