Compromise and community are key to building a better future in the latest trailer for Sarah Polley’s Women Talking. The film, an adaptation of Miriam Toews’ novel of the same name, centers on an isolated religious community where the women there find that they are each other’s only support system in the aftermath of violent sexual assault committed by the men in their colony.
Speaking out or taking action against the men’s transgressions could lead to dire consequences, including unforgivable implications regarding the women’s religious future. In the trailer, one woman, portrayed by Francis McDormand, warns: “If we do not forgive these men, we forfeit our place in heaven.” In the trailer, it’s stated that the women only have two days to come up with an official response, so what options remain for them in response to the attacks that left them battered while some are infected or pregnant, and others are dead? They can do nothing, or they can fight back, or they can leave altogether.
“Surely, there must be something worth living for in this life, not only the next,” Ona (Rooney Mara) suggests. “We can forgive because we are forced to.” The decision wouldn’t only impact them, but also the generation of children they’re currently raising and all those that would come after. “We hardly knew how to read or to write,” a younger woman says in the clip. “But that day, we learned how to vote.”
“Though the backstory behind the events in Women Talking is violent, the film is not,” Polley said in a statement. “We never see the violence that the women have experienced. We see only short glimpses of the aftermath. Instead, we watch a community of women come together as they must decide, in a very short space of time, what their collective response will be.”
She added: “When I read Miriam Toews’ book, it sunk deep into me, raising questions and thoughts about the world I live in that I had never articulated. Questions about forgiveness, faith, systems of power, trauma, healing, culpability, community, and self-determination. It also left me bewilderingly hopeful.”
Women Talking recently received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Screenplay. Polley, who was shut out of the directing categories, as were all women this year, is the only non-male nominated in the screenplay category.
“I imagined this film in the realm of a fable,” she continued in her statement. “While the story in the film is specific to a small religious community, I felt that it needed a large canvas, an epic scope through which to reflect the enormity and universality of the questions raised in the film. To this end, it felt imperative that the visual language of the film breathe and expand. I wanted to feel in every frame the endless potential and possibility contained in a conversation about how to remake a broken world.”
Women Talking will be released in select theaters beginning Dec. 25 ahead of a widespread theatrical release in January. The cast also includes Claire Foy, Jessie Buckley, Judith Ivey, Sheila McCarthy, and Ben Whishaw.