Deeply affected: Women Talking

Two things I don’t do often: write a blog post just a week and some days after the previous, and go to the same movie twice. I’m doing the first because I was so deeply affected by seeing “Women Talking” I went two days in a row. The first time, I attended alone, and the second, with four friends and then out to dinner to discuss it. Both times were powerful.onesheet

This isn’t a typical review, so if you’re not familiar with the details of the film, there are many reviews (like the Guardian’s) and responses online that supply them. Nor is it about the plight of the women in the story behind the story or how consistent or compatible to “real” Mennonite life it is or a critique of casting or screenplay or anything else. These were discussions that happened in my Facebook feed before I attended, and they interested me because years ago I engaged myself with the Bolivian Mennonite women’s story and also read and reviewed Miriam Toews’ novel Women Talking, but after seeing the movie I found myself strangely disinterested in opining on any of this, for the movie affected me at a visceral, not intellectual, level, and that’s still the place it sits. I can’t quite articulate why or what about this version of the story called up such emotion in me. My friends and I certainly remembered situations of it not mattering what we thought but mine has been a place of privilege in terms of the horrific backstory here. Still, somehow I felt myself within every woman in that hayloft, as well as those like Scarface Janz who left the conversation. I did love the two older women in particular, yes, but I “knew” the women of the other ages as the camera lingered on their faces too.women-talking-hero

But I’m not sure that’s quite it either, it sounds preposterous to suggest that I understand each angle or position within the arguments, reactions, consolations, and even laughter about forgiveness and innocence and courage. About the wisdom in “it is possible to leave…in one frame of mind and arrive elsewhere in another entirely unexpected frame of mind” (August). About what to do!

Please forgive the foggy imprecision of this response. Maybe it was simply being drawn into a story that feels core in its concerns, about topics important to all of us. And for sure to women. Maybe it’s because if I wrote the minutes of my life I would set down exactly their desires too: that we want our children to be safe, that we want to be steadfast in our faith, that we want to think.

Happy New Year!

Before 2017 disappears completely, let me wish everyone who reads this a safe and happy new year. A couple of comments on the way out….

  • I posted 11 times this year. I just counted and I’m surprised. I thought I’d done better than that. Maybe I can average once a month in 2018! 🙂 I still enjoy stopping by Borrowing Bones now and then, and I hope you do too.
  • I’m venturing a new blog, which will be more niche, more specific, than this one. Chronicles of Aging, I’m calling it, with the intention to post out of my experience of being in the last quarter of my life. I’m not old-old, but old nevertheless. Writing will be a way for me to notice and share what I observe in the process. I plan to post more frequently than here, but have determined to keep the entries short, 300 words max. I invite you to check it out, and if it’s your niche or interest, to follow or, if you prefer not to get email notifications, to bookmark the site.
  • I didn’t get around to a “best of 2017” list of books but I recently enjoyed Rose Tremain’s The Road Home. It’s been a while since I felt myself so drawn into and rooting for a character as I did with Lev, a widowed fortyish immigrant to London from a formerly communist country. Tremain is a superb and deeply empathetic writer. As for movies, I recommend “Wonder,” an important story about bullying and courage and good parenting. I’ll call these the best of the year and leave it at that.


The Iron Lady: through the lens of dementia

The movie, The Iron Lady, about Margaret Thatcher, prime minister of Britain from 1979 to 1990, starring Meryl Streep, is worth watching for a number of reasons. One is the opportunity to refresh our minds about a major figure of recent history and her influence upon those times. Another is to watch Streep’s performance in the role. She loses herself behind a helmet of hair, false teeth, and piles of make-up to become — brilliantly — Mrs. Thatcher.

Yet another reason — and for me the most compelling one, though it is quite controversial — is the decision to tell the story from the perspective of Mrs. Thatcher’s current dementia. Continue reading