AFI FEST 2020: I’m Your Woman

Rachel Brosnahan and Arinzé Kene star in I'm Your Woman. Courtesy of Amazon Studios.

I’m Your Woman, directed by Julia Hart and starring Rachel Brosnahan, owes its influence to the 1970s classic crime dramas.

Here’s the thing about the classic crime dramas: they were told from a man’s point of view.  What Julia Hart and Jordan Horowitz do with their script is change up the genre.  Surburban housewife Jean (Rachel Brosnahan) is front and center in this throwback thriller.  You know it’s a throwback as soon as you see an old-school television set and landline telephones.  Remember the days of bringing the phone with you while hiding in the closet?  You’ll be feeling the nostalgia in no time!

Jean’s life changes the very moment her thief husband, Eddie (Bill Heck), betrays his partners.  The next thing you know, someone his knocking on the door and Jean is forced to leave the house.  Eddie’s friend, Cal (Arinzé Kene), accompanies Jean and her baby, Harry, in hopes of keeping them out of harm’s way.  There’s a moment in the film when they’re sleeping in the war and a cop knocks on the window.  This scene could go in any certain direction. When it’s a white cop and a Black man is behind the wheel, no telling what could happen.  It’s very sad that this sort of scene can still happen in 2020.  In any event, this is where we see Brosnahan’s charm working on full display.

Even when Cal gets Jean and Harry to a safe house, they’re never quite out of the woods.  There’s the overly-prying neighbor, Evelyn (Marceline Hugot), who is a bit maybe too friendly.  But before Jean can settle down, trouble comes knocking and it’s off to a cabin in the middle of nowhere, Pennsylvania.  It’s the same cabin where Cal once lived so he’s very familiar with the lay of the land.  But then Cal disappears before his wife, Teri (Marsha Stephanie Blake), and dad (Frankie Faison) enters the picture.  The cabin is very crowded with everyone including Cal and Teri’s son, Paul (Da’Mauri Parks).

From here, we get into the nitty gritty of the crime thriller from another point of view.  Teri has her own agenda now that Cal is missing.  Where is he?  Teri knows Eddie and Cal’s world more so than Jean.  Meanwhile, Jean still has no idea what has happened to Eddie.  Is he alive or dead?  Nobody seems to know!

I’m Your Woman is closer to Fast Color in terms of tone than Hart’s adaptation of Stargirl earlier this year.  Behind the camera, Hart has a clear grasp of what she wants in terms of direction.  Co-writing the script with husband Jordan Horowitz, Hart makes a film that filmmakers just didn’t make back in the day.  What happens to the the women as soon as we no longer see them in crime dramas like The Godfather and Thief?  This is what the pair explore in the script.  In fact, I’m Your Woman owes its title with thanks to a line of dialogue from the Michael Mann film.  Visually, the film offers a 1970s vibe without necessarily filming in such a manner.

In subverting the genre, Hart brings about representation on screen.  Who are these women?  Through the script, we’re able to get into Jean’s head while she’s on the run.  The result is an amazing performance from the Emmy-winning The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel actress.  Rachel Brosnahan shows her range in the 1970s-set I’m Your Woman. The film also marks Brosnahan’s first producing credit on a feature.  There may be just the smallest hint of Midge Maisel in the film.  However, Jean is as far as it gets from the New York comedian.  The actress is in full control of her vulnerable character. I’d love to see what she does going forward.

I’m Your Woman offers a new and thrilling take on the crime drama with women front and center.

DIRECTOR:  Julia Hart
SCREENWRITERS:  Julia Hart & Jordan Horowitz
CAST:  Rachel Brosnahan, Marsha Stephanie Blake, Arinzé Kene, James McMenamin, Marceline Hugot, with Frankie Faison and Bill Heck

I’m Your Woman holds its world premiere during the 2020 AFI Fest as the Opening Night selection. Amazon opens the film in theaters on December 4 and Prime Video on December 11, 2020. Grade: 5/5

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.