What do we do with the perpetrators of sexual violence? Is the answer in rehabilitation, forgiveness, retribution? In the wake of Me Too, it's this question that we continue to grapple with, both inside and away from the culture. From Promising Young Woman to Michaela Coel's I May Destroy You, many have attempted to provide an answer. But it's in Sarah Polley's adaptation of Women Talking, the 2018 novel by Miriam Toews, that we see this conversation take place. Each possible solution is reasoned and played out as several women gather to discuss a pattern of sexual abuse committed by the men in the small Mennonite community against its female citizens.
In the newly released trailer for Women Talking, we witness Frances McDormand, Rooney Mara, Jessie Buckley, Claire Foy, Michelle McLeod and Judith Ivey spearheading this discussion – the formidable casting should be a talking point in itself. While the men are away to post bail for the locked-up perpetrators, the women gather to discuss what must be done. Do they follow the road of forgiveness as encouraged by the community elders? Or do they carve out a conclusion of their own imagining?
The source material for Women Talking is based off real world events. In 2010 a remote Bolivian Mennonite colony was rocked by numerous accounts that its female members were being drugged and raped by men in the community. They were gaslit, told they were imagining the assaults or that they had been visited by demons, until the evidence could no longer be ignored. The age of survivors ranged between five-year-old girls to women as old as 65.
Having made its world debut at Telluride Film Festival, and then later at Toronto International Film Festival, to critical acclaim, Women Talking has risen to the top of our watch lists for 2022. Although, if you're stationed in Australia like us, you're going to have to wait until February 16, 2023 to see the film in theatres.
In the meantime, preview the trailer for Women Talking, below.