Title: I'm Your Woman
Describe This Movie In One Simpsons Quote:
THE BE SHARPS: I'm telling you it's mighty nice / Each trip's a trip to paradise / With my baby on board
Brief Plot Synopsis: Being married to the mob turns out to be less amusing than that one movie told us.
Rating Using Random Objects Relevant To The Film: 3.5 TV dinners out of 5.
Better Tagline: "A really desperate housewife."
Not So Brief Plot Synopsis: 1970s stay-at-homer Jean (Rachel Brosnahan) leads a fairly drab existence until husband Eddie (Bill Heck) surprises her with a baby. Sure, the guy keeps odd hours, but this is a new development, and before you can say, "It ain't Ozzie and Harriet ," Eddie has disappeared, leaving Jean to care for young "Harry" with no one but Cal (Arinzé Kene), one of Eddie's associates, to help her along.
"Critical" Analysis: Newborns, as any parent will tell you, are a colossal pain in the ass: the sleepless nights, the seemingly endless crying, the total implosion of your social life ... and that's (usually) without having to deal with the added stress of being hunted by mobsters.
On its face, I'm Your Woman sounds like a setup for an action movie, but director Julia Hart (Fast Color, Stargirl) takes a more deliberate approach. eschewing the expected slam-bangery (for the first two acts, anyway) to examine Jean's day-to-day ordeals and uncertainty. And for the bulk of the movie, Jean's isolation comes front and center.
Because unlike, say, John Cassavetes's Gloria, Jean isn't a hard-bitten Mob figure. She has a passing understanding of her husband's career, but through a combination of willful ignorance and Eddie's secrecy, she knows little about the world he operates in. Instead, Jean is quickly forced to adapt to unfamiliar environs while coming to grips with the life she perhaps wanted all along.
And Hart's focus on the story's African-American characters is a way of including a perspective that, until recently, was largely absent from mainstream Mob movies. An early scene involving Jean, Cal, and a nervous cop reminds us how little has changed in this country since the '70s, while Cal's wife Teri (a terrific Marsha Stephanie Blake) demonstrates the toughness necessary to survive in both the mainstream and underground white man's world.
Teri also peels back the curtain a little more on Eddie's hazy past and mysterious present. And while it's unfortunate Jean has to learn about some of this stuff secondhand, it's nice for use to have something to go with concerning her husband beside the fact he looks like Ed Burns's dirtbag brother.
The gradual buildup may be off-putting to those anticipating a more traditional, kneecap breaking crime film. And while there are certainly moments of Milhouse-ian "when are they getting to the Tommy gun factory?," the extended scenes of Jean attempting to mother baby Harry with no warning or training underscore how out of her element she is.
It's also pretty hilarious to be reminded of the decade's childproofing protocols, which can charitably referred to as "makeshift." It's a wonder any member of Generation X survived to adulthood.
Brosnahan, giving off strong "young Sarah Paulson" vibes in her blonde wig, walks an uneasy line between whether it's her character or her performance that's out of its element. Hart (who co-wrote with husband Jordan Horowitz) takes the unconventional path, and the payoff ultimately feels earned, and I'm Your Woman ends up a worthy entry in the stacked genre of '70s crime films.
I'm Your Woman is now playing in select theaters and streaming on Amazon Prime.
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