I Am Woman | Review


I Am Woman is the feature directorial debut of Unjoo Moon, penned by second-time-writer Emma Jensen, starring Tilda Cobham-Hervey as the late iconic Helen Reddy, singer and feminist icon. 

The film starts with a 25-year-old Reddy. Having moved across the world from Australia, she arrives in New York with her young daughter, Traci, to pursue her career as a singer. Immediately, she gets hit with disillusioned men who have little to no interest in female singers with bands like The Beatles being on the rise. Danielle Macdonald stars as best friend Lilian Roxon, who was an icon in her own right having written an encyclopedia on the history of rock, as well as being a critic and influence at large in the music industry. The two of them fall into step with an "us against the world" mentality, showcasing all the boldness and bravery that comes with being twenty-something in Manhattan. 

It delves deep into the strenuous task of finding contentment as a woman, in an industry built by men, for men. It also speaks, in a grander sense, to the movement that was happening alongside Helen's rise to fame. Although the film simplifies the journey, as they often must, it does a great deal to showcase the real-life implications of Helen's work.  

The film has all the familiar trappings of a musical biopic, with it feeling as shiny and polished as the world it's set in. It feels like New York, dreamy and romantic with an empowering quality. For all its good, it does fall into the trap that most biopics do, in that it tries to cover a large chunk of time in one hour and fifty minutes. Lives do not condense into neat run-times, and so the film has to take artistic license in small details as it attempts to span 23 years of Reddy's career, which means it slightly runs out of steam towards the end. 

It is so clearly passionately made, with love and care of Reddy's ambition, and the world she was navigating. It's always so rewarding to see ambitious women get their pay off and Reddy never sacrificed the heart of who she was for a career, she made it despite it. There's a moment where her husband, Jeff Wald (played by Evan Peters), describes her as too wholesome, pin-pointing it as the reason labels wouldn't want her. Traditionally, the protagonist would take this comment and run with it, going on a wild and desperate spree to change their image in an attempt to reach their dream by any means necessary. It's refreshing to see a woman who doesn't need, nor want, to do this. 

Unfortunately, Helen Reddy passed just a couple of weeks ago, at the end of September, but Moon and Jensen have captured her spirit and given it new and vibrant life inside their loving portrait of a woman who inspired a generation.

I Am Woman is in UK and Irish Cinemas and Digital Platforms from October 9th 2020.

Until next time

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