Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

I’m Your Woman, or: I’ve Got You, Babe…y

As the Oscars approach, this means…not a whole lot on the Collab historically. However, being largely at home in my free time during a global pandemic seems like as good a time as any to check out some of 2020’s buzzworthy films. This week’s pick didn’t receive any nominations, but it must have been a close call. After all, we’ve got worryingly vague criminal enterprises, abrupt and disturbing acts of violence, and so many funky ’70s vibes.

The Film:

I’m Your Woman

The Premise:

After things go awry with her husband’s life in organized crime, a woman must go on the run with her baby.

The Ramble:

Happily(?) married Jean is a 1970s housewife whose sole occupation seems to be lounging around and smoking, looking unutterably glamorous. Jean would much rather spend her time raising a child; sadly, after multiple miscarriages, it seems clear that delivering a child isn’t a possibility for Jean. Due to husband Eddie’s rather illicit activities, adoption is out of the question too. The solution? Buy a baby from a teen with an unwanted pregnancy (perhaps from the baby merchant)! Clearly.

The character Jean, a woman with long blonde hair, wears oversized sunglasses while sitting outside and smoking a cigarette.

Too stoked to ask too many questions, Jean eagerly cares for baby Harry as her own. While she occasionally worries about how Eddie makes a living, Jean is usually happy to remain unaware.

That is, until one of Eddie’s work buddies arrives at the house in the middle of the night. Sharing few details, he insists that Jean throw together a few belongings and leave immediately. Taken to a motel to meet with another man, Cal, Jean understands very little of her new life, except that Eddie is in some very deep shit indeed. It’s now Cal’s job to take care of Jean; luckily, he also knows a thing or two about soothing fussy babies.

The character Cal, a Black man wearing a turtleneck, comforts Jean's baby. Jean looks on with some concern as they stand in a dimly lit motel room.

However, in this case, Harry’s endless cries are worrying. Despite Cal’s warnings, Jean insists that Harry must go to the hospital for a fever that won’t break. Their hospital visit is cut short when a couple of dudes arrive and give Cal a bad feeling. After escaping the hospital, Cal and Jean sleep in the car with baby Harry, earning a questioning from the police. Jean’s quick thinking saves the day, as she claims Cal is her husband and they pulled over after driving late into the night to get to their new house.

Luckily, there is a safe house for Jean and Harry in a quiet neighborhood. Cal instructs Jean to stay put and talk to no one until he can return. There is a phone and secret number in the house for Jean to use in case of emergency only.

For quite a while, Jean learns to live in virtual isolation, doing nothing but taking Harry out for walks at night and reheating frozen dinners. Things escalate very quickly after Jean, starved of companionship, allows a neighbor with a casserole to stop in for a visit. Extremely suspicious of the visitor, Jean is panicked when, later that night, she hears an uninvited guest downstairs. Hoping for help from neighbor Evelyn, Jean is shocked to find the woman tied up and questioned by former associates of Eddie’s.

Jean sits cross-legged on a bed with the handset of a pink rotary phone to her ear.

Luckily, Call arrives just in time to intervene. Jean objects to his methods, including shooting Evelyn to leave no witnesses–though he does point out that Jean has no way of knowing if Evelyn was involved in the plot. With their safe house busted, Cal takes Jean and Harry to a new location, a one-room cabin in the countryside. Jean connects the dots and realizes this is Cal’s childhood home. Though Cal remains reluctant to talk about his own life, he does reveal that Eddie killed the crime boss he worked for…as a contract killer?! That definitely can’t be true at all…can it?

After time passes, Jean is surprised when she hears a car arrive at the remote cabin. The visitors, rather than members of a criminal organization, are Cal’s family: wife, child, and father. Cal’s wife, Teri, seems impossibly independent, strong, and quick-witted–traits Jean envies with a passion. As Jean falls into the family’s rhythms, she learns some shocking truths about Eddie’s past, while feeling a growing sense of unease about Cal’s extended absence. What will happen when Jean insists she go along with Teri to find Cal?

Jean and Teri, a Black woman, sit outside of a rustic cabin, wrapped in blankets and looking out into the distance.

All you know for sure is that shit. Will. Go. Down.

3.5/5 Pink Panther Heads

There is a LOT to like about this film, but I almost never feel a 2-hour runtime is justified for a film. This one is an extremely slow burn, so it took me some time to become fully invested here.

However, I do love the concept of a gangster film that focuses on the women who are typically props–if they appear onscreen at all. I also really enjoy seeing Jean’s growth as a character; from being a woman who is largely sidelined and extremely sheltered, Jean learns to trust her own instincts and navigate a shockingly violent world.

Unsurprisingly, I adore the relationship between Teri and Jean. I think one of my issues with the pacing of the film is how long it takes for Teri, who is truly iconic, to enter the picture. Though certainly not without complications, the trust that evolves between the two feels real. Jean seems to aspire to channel Teri’s detached calm under pressure, yet this doesn’t create a rivalry. The people most marginalized in our film–people of color and women (including women of color)–stick together against those with the most power to inflict harm (mostly white dudes, TBH).

To me, where the film is most successful is in its exploration of themes not usually tackled in a film about organized crime. We focus in on Jean’s grief and loneliness quite a lot–partly a result of her husband’s willingness to shut her out of significant parts of his life, but also due to her many miscarriages and despair that she may never be a mother. Jean literally needs Cal and Teri to survive; she needs them on a human level too, after living in isolation long before hiding from a gang. When it comes down to it, a life lounging around looking fabulous does not replace the bond Jean finds in her surrogate family, where she experiences need and is needed.

On a side note, the cinematography is stunning. My favorite part of any period piece is typically the fashion, and this film is no exception. I am also very much here for the ’70s grooves in the soundtrack. I’m a huge fan of Rachel Brosnahan in Mrs. Maisel, and I appreciate her transformation in this role, tapping into a much darker place than I associate with her. I was here for the Rachel Brosnahan content, but I stayed for the tensely written plot and the supporting characters.

Would my blog wife hide this one under the floorboards or put a bullet through its skull at point-blank range? Find out in her review!

1 thought on “I’m Your Woman, or: I’ve Got You, Babe…y”

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