Julia Hart shows promise but ultimately disappoints with I’m Your Woman, a film attempting to flip the crime genre on its head but only ending up on the ground itself.
The goals of I’m Your Woman are obvious. By pushing the criminal men to the margins of a crime movie, Julia Hart seeks to evacuate the genre of its masculine posturing and recenter the focus on the women who remain, in this case Rachel Brosnahan’s Jean. When her criminal husband doesn’t come home one night, Jean is whisked away by an old friend of his and sent into hiding, accompanied only by her baby. The baby was, one way or another, criminally acquired, as her husband simply showed up with it one day after years of Jean’s struggles with infertility. For the first hour or so, the criminal underworld stays at arm’s length, with Jean navigating the paranoia of her situation and the mundane pains of new motherhood. Slowly but surely, Jean comes out of hiding in the film’s back half, and a rather convincing crime film emerges, as our heroine plunges headfirst into the underworld looking for answers but finding only violence.
But despite Hart’s evident chops for this mode of genre filmmaking, her ambitions never feel wholly realized here. For one thing, much of I’m Your Woman’s second half seems to work in opposition to the first, as the film gives way to the exact sort of drama it had been avoiding without adding anything particularly new. More importantly and problematically, Hart and Brosnahan never fully realize Jean’s interiority. Hart’s frames often suggest the suffocation of domestic spaces, much in the same way Todd Haynes films Julianne Moore’s home in Safe, and her narrative of an innocent woman entangled in crime might recall something like Wanda, but the film is only ever the meager sum of its borrowed parts. While Brosnahan does a fine job conveying Jean’s easily readable emotions — fear, mostly — and maintains a compellingly cagey demeanor, the performance wants for the richness of a complex inner life. What characterization there is, apart from being scared and maternally inclined, is given through exposition arrived at during meaningful plot beats. And that’s the problem with I’m Your Woman writ large: it’s a film that seeks to dig beneath the surface of the crime drama but can only muster surfaces of its own.
You can currently stream Julia Hart’s I’m Your Woman on Amazon.
Published as part of Before We Vanish | December 2020 — Part 2.