In 2018, Julia Hart wrote and directed one of my favourite films of the year Fast Color. It flew under the radar for many but as I sat and watched it, I became really interested to see what the future had for her. With Fast Color, Hart explored family and womanhood with an original story and a twist on the normal superhero films that we are so used to see. With I’m Your Woman Hart continues her exploration of womanhood, family and again puts a twist on this idea of what we have about a genre, this time around neo-noir crime drama. If in Fast Color, Hart proved that she could direct the crap out of a film, I’m Your Woman is her strongest work to date and finds her in near control of her craft.
Rachel Brosnahan (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel) stars as Jean, a young woman, who one day is forced to go on the run with her baby when her husband decides to do a coup and kill his business partner. With criminals now after her for information about the whereabouts of her husband and his associates, Jean must protect her child and herself while also learning how to survive in this world she is truly unprepared for.
Part crime film and road trip film, I’m Your Woman takes the genre that we know and decides to change it. Following Jean instead of her husband makes all the difference in the world. Neo-noir crime films typically are all about the men and the woman that inhabit them are usually there only to advance the men’s agenda, I’m Your Woman has no interest in that. By showing us the wife’s perspective, Heart is capable of creating a story that is unusual for us. Jean might start like any other wife that we have seen so many times before in neo-noir crime films, but the moment that the story decides to follow her everything we know starts to change. We are thrown into a story that can go anywhere, we are in new territory, a story that is more concerned with Jean and her journey than her husband and his problems. With that decision, I’m Your Woman sets itself up to be original and can pretty much do what it wants.
I’m Your Woman’s the two most important characters are Jean and Teri (When They See Us’ Marsha Stephanie Blake). Teri is who Jean needs to become and Jean is who Teri used to be. They mirror each other, the past and present. The revelation of that is crafted in a way that feels earn and Hart manages to create two sides of the same coin with these two. Yes, Cal (Youngers’ Arinzé Kene) is important, he is after all the bodyguard that keeps Jean alive when she needs him. But Cal is there to not only advance Jean’s story but also Teri’s. He has the role that is usually reserved for the female characters, coming and going when they need him and not there to take over the story. It’s a nice change of pace, showing that I’m Your Woman has no interest in showing what we have seen before.
As a Mrs. Maisel fan, watching Rachel Brosnahan’s rise has been something that I have love seeing. It was always clear that she was a great actress, but this might be the best performance she has given. Nuanced, she can say so much with so little, but also can showcase that great comedic timing that we have been so accustomed to now with her turn as Midge on Mrs. Maisel. Her performance is the focal point of the film, without it the film falls apart and she never falters. She is in total control of her craft and her emotional journey makes the film’s climax even more satisfying. If everyone in the cast is strong and deserves praise, it’s impossible to walk away without thinking that Brosnahan just delivered her best performance to date.
Julia Hart crafts a story that we haven’t seen before, a story that feels original for one but also showcases that the story of the wife is sometimes even more interesting. The blend of genre paired with a director that has near-total control of her craft makes I’m Your Woman a must-see, a film that knows exactly what it is. I’m Your Woman might look like a very typical crime film but in reality, it is such the opposite and I think that this is why it is so brilliant because when you think you know what you are getting, Hart pulls the carpet from under your feet and all of a sudden you find yourself in a whole new world trying to find your bearing, just like Jean.