"I didn't know I could lie like that."
Part noir thriller, part crime drama, Julie Hart's I'm Your Woman is a unique film that bears a unique style and tone. Fully understanding its own identity, it thrives on its confidence, delivering one of the most exciting and unexpected successes of this unforgettably forgettable year of cinema.
Rachel Brosnahan stars as Jean, a young married woman who is suddenly uprooted with her son when her husband's job poses a lethal threat. Like much of the film, the details surrounding their need to isolate are unknown; however, the lengths everyone is going to keep them both away from people provides a small glimpse into the severity of the circumstances.
Hart and co-writer Jordan Horowitz beautifully capture the mystery and intrigue of the situation, refusing to offer up much in the way of details, putting the audience in the same position as their lead protagonist. The camera rarely leaves Jean's side throughout the first hour, following her every move as she navigates the rough mental terrain of worrisome exhaustion, social isolation, and fear.
Her only interaction is with Cal, played by Arinzé Kene. A man enlisted by Jean's husband, he serves as her protector, escorting her to the safe house where she is supposed to remain detached from civilization - an order she obeys until her new neighbor, the nosey, aged Evelyn, knocks on her door.
At this point, the film enters new territory, taking us on a mental ride of paranoia as tensions mount and the inevitable occurs - Jean is found.
With the discovery, I'm Your Woman effortlessly solidifies its footing, utilizing a change in scenery to showcase the evolution of our lead. Though we are never made aware of time, Jean's inner development is undeniable. This is most notable when a trio of supporters arrive. They show her how to hold a gun, respect herself, and occasionally relieve her of baby duty, thus allowing her to sleep.
Here, we begin to piece together the clues to the world in which Jean finds herself in. And with each tidbit of information, Jean holds her head a little taller, her back a little straighter, and begins to figure out how she will survive and thrive in this new life.
Jean's camaraderie with Marsha Stephanie Blake's Teri is the epitome of female friendship. Though Teri's past is Jean's present, neither judge the other for their discretions, paving the way to an understanding that places the two as equals. They show no hesitation as they fully embrace their journey, most notably when they get dressed up to attend a disco party. The move is meant to get the men stirring about their presence in the city. When bullets begin to fly within the club, everything turns to chaos, further cementing the risk and danger that exists.
The final act is equally simple and complex. But in all its simplicity, the unfaltering approach allows the characters to shine. Though touted as a noir crime drama, I'm Your Woman is every bit an in-depth character study, one that just so happens to be surrounded by mystery and violence.
*This film is streaming globally on Amazon Prime.