Cleaning up all the loose ends when it comes to the films of 2020 is going to be a tall task. I don’t know that I’ll be able to confidently put together my usual end-of-year awards, but I’m going to try. In the process, I ended up on a streak of movies with three-word titles that all ended in “Woman” that culminated with this unique gangster movie. I’m Your Woman is a subtly beautiful journey of self-discovery in the face of adversity.
Unlike the archetypal gangster-flick narrative, this story is told from the perspective of a wife who’s forced to go on the run after her husband crosses the wrong people. It’s a space that’s rarely explored in these kinds of films but finds its own identity as it goes.
Much like she did in her 2018 film, Fast Color, writer/director Julia Hart explores life on the run while dealing with themes of isolation and family. All of the trimmings you’d typically see with a story like this exist as background catalyst. Hart kept a lot of tension on deck, using pacing and the fact the main characters really don’t know exactly what’s going on to her advantage. Nonetheless, she made sure the gravity of the situation was always present. It keeps the audience in the same state of fear as the main character and cultivates sympathy in the process. The script she wrote with Jordan Horowitz captured quite a wide range of emotional depth and served as a very refreshing addition to a genre that often overlooks those out of the direct line of conflict.
The film has three central performances with Rachel Brosnahan leading the way. She plays Jean, essentially a mob wife, who was handed an “adopted” baby by her husband Eddie before he disappears and forces her to go on the run. Brosnahan plays the helpless role well, drawing experience from the early character arc of her Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. She does a wonderful job of making you feel her level of anxiety and confusion along the way, which helps drive the narrative approach. It’s ultimately about her growth curve and the pursuit of control in her own life that she effectively brings to life.
Arinzé Kene was excellent opposite Brosnahan as Cal, who’s essentially duty-sworn to protect her. He serves as the heart of the story and the moral compass in a murky world of crime. His presence is invaluable when it comes to balancing the narrative approach and portioning out moments of exposition. I imagine he’s probably going to start getting some more high profile work after this. Marsha Stephanie Blake plays his wife, Teri, and she has a big hand in developing the details of the larger story but also serves as a mentor for Jean as both a mother and as a wife who’s been part of the criminal business for a long time. Blake’s solemnity is important in establishing the seriousness of the situation but also in giving context and guidance.
I’m Your Woman has flown under the radar since its December 2020 release but it’s a solid crime drama that’s well-paced and has enough action to keep you on board. It still carried the style of a period-based gangster drama, with great costuming by Natalie O’Brien and quietly strong cinematography by Bryce Fortner, but explored all the negative space left behind by its predecessors.
Recommendation: If you generally like crime dramas, check it out. It does a great job of feeling very familiar while also bringing something new to the table.