1-1/2 out of 5: Released in 2020. Written by Julia Hart & Jordan Horowitz. Directed by Julia Hart. Starring Rachel Brosnahan, Marsha Stephanie Blake, & Arinze Kene. Running time 2 hours.
Set in the 1970s, I’m Your Woman follows clueless Jean (Rachel Brosnahan) fleeing for safety after her husband appears to have been murdered in a crime gone wrong. Cal (Arinze Kene) and Teri (Marsha Stephanie Blake) have been given the “assignment” to protect her. Jean turns out to be more trouble than she’s worth due to her cluelessness about the nature of her husband’s work, his past, and the baby she accepts from her husband right before his death.
What I liked
I love period films. Especially ones which stay true to costuming, architecture, transportation, home decor, and accessories. This film was eye candy in that way. It has fantastic pattern wallpaper in various rooms in shades of green, pink, and gold. The long wavy hair Jean sports plus the clothes, sunglasses, and evening wear she dons is fantastic. The big boaty cars of the 70’s make you feel like your gliding on the road and they look like that onscreen. Big floating objects of steel which can withstand head on collisions on a side street which people “walk” away from. Okay, so they might have a few injuries, but they manage to flee the scene.
I’m Your Woman gives the viewer a taste of all the iconic scenes from a 70s era film. The tri-level mid-century home to show the life Jean is accustomed to, the disco with boogie music and lights which she is not, and a cabin in the woods/safe house for Jean and the gang complete with hidden trap door under the dining room table.
So, basically, aesthetically speaking, I liked “watching” the film. The acting was well done with what they were given. The baby was perfect :)The story; however, was not as pleasing…
What I wished was better
The premise is lame. Eddie is a murdering criminal with a clueless and barren wife. He brings home a baby for her to take care of when she cannot even make toast. He goes on a job, gets himself killed, and Jean is woken in the night by one of his cohorts who throws a bunch of money into a duffle and tells her wake the baby and Cal will take care of her. Cal is a strange man who doesn’t say much, the baby cries 80% of the time, Jean asks questions which Cal doesn’t answer except to say, “No people. Lock the door.” Well, what do you know, a neighbor comes calling (fatal mistake), some bad guys show up, and Cal has to rescue Jean and the kid. He takes them to his families cabin and leaves them there. Some days go by, Teri, Paul (their son), and Art (Cal’s dad) show up. Teri makes dinner and impresses Jean with her ability to make peas taste good. Art teaches Jean how to shoot. Teri and Jean decide to go into the city to find Cal. They end up stirring up more trouble at a discotheque (The Fox Den), Teri tells Jean her history with Eddie, they find Cal, and Jean shows off her shooting skills. They make it back to the cabin and get the kids.
I have fundamental issues regarding the character of Jean. Jean has NO idea who her husband is or what he does for a living. Why? She doesn’t know how to cook. She says, “I’m a terrible cook.” more times than necessary. We see her burn toast and fail to crack an egg without breaking the yolk. Why? They do have cookbooks in the 70s, right? She asks a lot of questions which have no answers, or at least, no answers anyone is willing to tell her– until the end. Why? She is awkward with the baby her husband brought home for her and seems to stumble figuring out how to be a mother. Every time she leaves from one of the hideouts, she leaves everything for the baby behind. Later, we learn she miscarried a bunch of times and had given up on having a baby. WHY? Why does Jean need this ineptness as a character for this story? I did not care if Jean survived. The writers gave me nothing to root for in her. By the way, if Jean cracked an egg the way she slowly pulls the trigger, she would’ve had better luck in the kitchen.
Teri is Cal’s wife. She’s a strong mother who knows how to cook, shoot a gun, get around town, get information from seedy people, and overall be a bad ass. (She chops wood!) She’s no nonsense and you can see it on her face she would rather be somewhere else living her life with Cal than where she is. Heck, she actually says those words while she and Jean wait in a hotel room for Cal to contact them. Teri has a complicated backstory with Eddie (Jean’s criminal dead husband) which is fine but casting doesn’t quite match up concerning their love child. And why do they need a love child? Teri is a better character than Jean but not by much. She pretty one-note throughout as a bad ass momma and annoyed she has to be pulled out of her quiet life to help her ex-husband’s stupid wife out of an obligation she made years ago. I would be annoyed too.
Cal is an old partner of Eddy’s. Fine. But does he need to be embroiled in a weird love triangle from the past with Teri and Eddie? No. It doesn’t add to the story but it does psychologically undermine the dynamic of Cal and Teri’s family. Why can’t Paul be Cal’s biological son. He doesn’t need to part of Teri and Eddie’s story to exist in this story. It just complicates things for the sake of complicating things. I hate that. Cal has some great moments of vulnerability and strength. I often thought, “Please don’t put them together. please don’t put them together.” until Teri showed up. Then, I was fine. It would’ve been too predictable. Oh, and the police questioning them on the side of the road. “Ma’am, are you all right? Is this man bothering you?” I get the implication of a Black man and a White woman sleeping in a car on the side of the road has serious repercussions in those days and still do in some areas. (I happened to me in Oregon in the 80s. We weren’t sleeping, just hanging out; but the re-enactment in the film was not lost on me.) I get the 2020 timing of having a scene like that in the film; although, it wasn’t really necessary.
How about this: Eddie is a criminal/murderer. Jean knows he does shady stuff but she enjoys a good life. She has a new baby and Eddie promises one last job then he’s gonna go straight. Something goes wrong, his pal Jimmy shows up in the middle of the night to warn her and send her and the baby to a safe house. Cal shows up and takes to the safe house where she is befriended by a neighbor. Some bad guys show up, Cal saves her, and then takes her to the cabin. Teri, Paul, and Art are already there. Cal leaves to find out what happened to Eddie. After a few days, Teri and Jean decide to leave to find Cal and find out what happened to Eddie. They get into some scrapes with bad guys, car chases, gun shooting and killing, and then make it back to the cabin. It basically the same story only Jean isn’t a clueless idiot–she’s a partner. She has a stake in what’s happening for her baby and the people who have risked their lives for her.
I’m Your Woman left a lot to be desired for me. I don’t even know what the title means or how it relates to the film. Rachel Brosnahan, Marsha Stephanie Blake, and Arinze Kene do a fantastic job with the characters they were given but is isn’t enough for me to care. The baby was super cute. Poor thing cried in most of his scenes. He’ll be talking about it with his therapist someday wondering why he has detachment anxiety. (I hope not.) Why do women keep writing and directing films with such weak/flawed female lead characters when they don’t have to?
I give I’m Your Woman 1-1/2 out of 5. Available on Amazon Prime. Watch the trailer below: