Released on Prime Video by Amazon Studios, Julia Hart’s I’m Your Woman seems, at the outset, like a thriller that will follow a predictable path. About a woman on the run with her baby, the deliciously dangerous turns injected into the narrative ensure you’re left uncertain and often concerned about the lead’s life and limb. Headlined by Emmy-winner Rachel Brosnahan (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, House of Cards), this one’s a slow burn, but hang in there and the payoff will be worth your time. Having proved her mettle in musical comedies and dramas, Brosnahan is tasked with quite a bit in this edgy neo-noir thriller set in the 1970s. On that front, she manages to internalise her character’s debilitating state and closely follows her life-altering journey.
In the opening scene, we find Jean (Brosnahan) splayed over a lounger in her backyard in a shocking pink housecoat with furry cuffs. Her shades thrown on, puffing a cigarette, she completes the stereotype of a bored suburban housewife from middle-America. While she yearned to be a mother, when her husband brings home an adopted newborn, she’s left clueless about her newly-assigned role. And then, out of the blue, one night, she’s informed by a friend of her husband’s that she must pack her stuff and disappear and that her husband has got himself in a sticky situation. On the run from those who seek to avenge her husband’s doings, Jean is left to the care and protection of Cal (Arinzé Kene), a poker-faced operator who gives off very little.
Brosnahan is compelling and furnishes her character’s fragile existence while carrying the weight of her circumstances in every frame. Kene as an opaque bodyguard-of-sorts offers a restrained performance, even while he’s effective in conveying his character’s mood and mayhem, often wordlessly.
A perennially-wailing infant is hardly an ideal companion when you’re on the run, trying to lay low in safe houses. And Jean’s dash from her perpetrators with a baby in tow is a journey pickled with frights and violent turns, while she continues to grapple with motherhood and struggles to accept her new reality. The turn of events, over time, throw up startling revelations and also expose hidden intentions of certain characters. But there’s little to prepare us for the turbulent circumstances that drive Jean to resort to extreme measures when matters escalate rather quickly and in a gruesome fashion.
Set in a period when racism was more blatant and pronounced, it just takes a scene to demonstrate the kind of profiling that members of law enforcement would extend towards those from the African American community. But if period depiction was a concern, tucking in tunes by Aretha Franklin and Richie Havens and chase sequences featuring elongated cars that turn gracefully yet impractically have you covered.
Brosnahan is compelling and furnishes her character’s fragile existence while carrying the weight of her circumstances in every frame. Kene as an opaque bodyguard-of-sorts offers a restrained performance, even while he’s effective in conveying his character’s mood and mayhem, often wordlessly. Marsha Stephanie Blake, who plays Kene’s onscreen partner Terry, is sharp and enigmatic and makes her brief screen time count.
Writer-director Hart, who also co-wrote La La Land (with Jordan Horowitz) builds up the tension slowly yet surely through her definitive style of storytelling. It is, after all, in the telling that makes taut thrillers stand out from the rest. This one elevates itself from the rest by keeping it’s audience in the dark about the particulars of this story right up till the final decisive minutes.
Recommendations in collaboration with Amazon Prime Video