A woman is captured by an outwardly successful lawyer, whose family suffers his abuse at home.
I hate this movie.
Not because it’s bad. Actually, it’s pretty amazing when it comes to achieving its goal; and that’s exactly why I hate it. Because few movies have left me feeling as gross as The Woman did.
Sean Bridgers’ portrayal of the domineering patriarch of the Cleek family puts him quite high on the list of characters I’ve wanted to see suffer. Angela Bettis also did an amazing job of portraying his beaten-down wife, perhaps delivering the strongest performance in the movie in a scene that would have been uplifting if it weren’t also so terrifying. In fact, practically everyone did a great job of portraying their characters, with Carlee Baker (as Peggy’s geometry teacher) being the only one that really stood out as not being quite up to the overall standard. Her character was also kind of an idiot, but I guess that’s not her fault.
The technical aspects of the movie are also pretty good, with makeup and costuming doing a lot of support-work for the actors. The audio could have been better, what with the dialogue competing with background noises in a couple of key scenes, but…
Well. Almost all of that is really about me trying to avoid discussing my discomfort, ain’t it?
There are two stories happening in The Woman. One is the capture and abuse of The Woman (Pollyanna McIntosh), which provides most of the overt physical and sexual violence in the film; and the second, which feeds into the former, is Chris Cleek’s abuse of his family. Both stories are horrible, but the latter – in particular, the way that it shapes what happens to The Woman – is what really got to me, because of its realistic portrayal of the effects of domestic violence (and of the treatment of women more broadly). This is the story that lacked the safe veneer of an obvious horror setting to act as a buffer between it and reality – and that’s why it was the cause of most of my distress as a viewer.
If I were to suggest that there’s any main weakness in The Woman, it would be that the end of the movie – in particular the final twist (which is a common sticking point for me, as I’m sure you’ve noticed) – moves too far back into the safety of the genre. Sure, it’s satisfying, in its own kind of way, but I can’t help but feel like it moves too far back into the fantastical for the true horror of this situation to really stick.
Although, considering I’ve already said it makes me feel gross, maybe I should be happy for that, eh?