Rachel Brosnahan, the double Golden Globe-winning star of TV’s The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, stars as sheltered mob wife Jean in this stylish and ambitious female-centric gangster film. Directed by Julia Hart (Fast Colour), who wrote the screenplay with her husband, La La Land producer Jordan Horowitz – probably best remembered for handing back the Oscar to Moonlight – I’m Your Woman tells of how Jean goes on the run after her husband betrays his partner.
Lounging around in stylish 70s garb and chain-smoking her days away, Jean isn’t what you might call your average suburban housewife. By her own admission, she is also a terrible cook who spends hours of her day lost in her own thoughts. One day her husband Eddie (Bill Heck) arrives home with a baby in his arms and declares the infant to be theirs. His story about a teenage unwanted pregnancy is taken at face value, and Jean, who has so far been unable to conceive, decides to keep the baby, naming him Harry.
A few weeks later, Jean is woken in the middle of the night by a stranger, Cal (Arinzé Kene), who has come to take her and Harry away for their own safety. Soon both are bungled into a safe house in the middle of nowhere and left to fend for themselves. Later, Cal’s wife Teri (played to perfection by Orange is the New Black’s Marsha Stephanie Blake) informs Jean of the truth surrounding Eddie and his associates. The two women decide to band together to salvage what is left of their own lives.
In I’m Your Woman, director Hart presents a handsomely devised and refreshingly cliché-free narrative which keeps you guessing throughout. Shot with a keen eye by Bryce Fortner and with a great deal of attention to period detail from designer Gae S Buckley, the film has ambitions beyond its rough-around-the-edges screenplay and limited budget.
If some of the dialogue feels stunted and a little forced in places, Hart remembers to ‘show don’t tell’, and that is where her true directing genius lies. Meanwhile, as Jean, Brosnahan gives an arresting ‘deer in the headlights’ turn, playing a steely-eyed and eternally depressed woman who finally finds the courage to be the person she needs to be for herself and her son.
Overall, I’m Your Woman is thrilling and engaging without resorting to facile tropes or a reductive expositional style. Julia Hart succeeds where many often fail by presenting a modern mob story film that hooks its audience from start to finish. Which, let’s face it, is no mean feat.
- Director: Julia Hart
- Starring: Rachel Brosnahan, Arinzé Kene
- Release date: December 11 (Amazon Prime)