One of the competitors for the 2023 season awards, The woman speaks Written and directed by Sarah Polley. It stars Rooney Mara, Jesse Buckley, Frances McDormand, and more as members of the Mennonite community who are faced with an important decision. After a brutal series of sexual assaults, the women task themselves with deciding whether they should stay in the community and do nothing, stay and fight for change, or leave. As a group so isolated and unable to read or write, leaving is a huge challenge. However, survival and struggle for change as well.


Polly wrote the screenplay based on the novel of the same name by Miriam Toews. The novel is similar to the movie aside from its setting as it is set in Bolivia instead of the United States. Toews told Publishers Weekly that her novel is an “imagined response to real events”. The woman speaks is a devastating, yet at times thrilling, story that empathizes with each of its characters and their different perspectives. Telling stories about sexual assault is difficult, and often without due attention to its characters and the audience. Polly manages to write with nuance and restraint as she has crafted a compelling narrative. Here’s why it deserved to win Best Adapted Screenplay this year Oscars.

Today’s movie

Excellent balance of tone

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Given the difficult subject, The woman speaks He has the ability to easily veer into melodrama or unbearable sadness. When creating films that address abuse, it is important that they remain watchable because there is no point in telling a story if viewers can’t get through the entire running time. Fortunately, Polly avoids these issues by creating a delicate balance between pragmatic discussion, raw emotion, and even moments of humor. Speaking to Vogue, Polley said she had no difficulty making room for humor in this film because “that’s what we do naturally as a genre — we laugh our way through difficulty, and that’s just the way we live.”

This combination of tones meant Polley didn’t let the characters get swallowed up by what happened to them. In addition, the characters had distinct personalities and opinions that made sure these women were not presented as monoliths. This is especially important given the fact that they are deeply religious women. The film does not play into popular narratives about the intelligence of women in Mennonite communities and other religious groups. Their faith is given respect as a factor in the decision they must make.

Related: Women Speak: Other Roles You’ve Seen Actors Play

Brief retelling of the stories

Agata consoles Salome
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standing just over 100 minutes, The woman speaks It packs in massive emotional arcs and pivotal conversations in under two hours. The time that passes in the film’s narration is about 24 hours long, and Polly makes us feel the weight of each passing hour while we wait for a decision to be made. In a landscape where three-hour movies are now plentiful, this film knowing what it had to say and getting to the point is refreshing. With such a strong sense of urgency, every moment feels necessary as these characters’ lives are about to change permanently. In this way, the film does not have to rely on cues from its score to build tension, instead, it is built into the script.

There is no time wasted on long monologues designed for the Best Actress awards or on outlandish characters and relationships. By scaling back the text, Polly reflects on the abstract lives led by the Mennonite community, thus immersing us in their world. Their little considerations of loved ones and God’s forgiveness show how important the role religion plays in their daily lives. It is difficult for audiences living in the rest of the world to relate to and understand such distant groups, but the clarity with which Polly writes allows her message to be accurately conveyed.

Related: Women Speak is the women’s movie we need

Engage dialogue

August, Una and Salome sit and meditate.
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as a result The woman speaksFocused plot and short screenplay, it is important to keep the audience engaged. With almost the entire movie depicting a single conversation, if that discussion isn’t convincing, it will lose its audience. Fortunately, Polly’s dialogue is fun and interesting. Each woman offers a different angle on the situation and no matter how advanced or backward their opinions are, each character is presented with respect and empathy. These conflicting views make for fascinating conversations about the way each interprets religion and its circumstances.

Another important aspect of the dialogue created by poly is that it allows for a full range of emotional expression. The women are very angry, sad and optimistic at the same time. Watching the conversation flow from explosive rage to quieter sadness keeps you on your toes as none of the shows are a single note. Being able to convincingly write down all of these feelings is not as easy as it might seem. Other writers rely on shock value and screaming to sound impressive, as exemplified by Martin McDonagh Anisherin from Inisherin. But Polly’s appeal comes from the ability to create empathy, take back the excess, and quietly portray real conversation.

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