How to reconcile faith and daily life? Such is the question on which the heroines of Women Talking by Sarah Polley based on the novel what they say of Miriam Toews. To see them, we could live in another century, but it was in 2010 that the ordeals of these women drugged and then raped, even very young, by the men of their religious community isolated from the modern world took place.
“They find themselves faced with an almost impossible choice when they accidentally discover what was done to them,” explains Sarah Polley to 20 minutes. They only have a few hours to decide whether to forgive or leave the community. “Female stars like Rooney Mara, Frances McDormand, Claire Foy or Jessie Buckley are part of a breathtaking cast where everyone can give their opinion.
A universal question
“Their questions touched me deeply because they seem to me to go beyond the framework of these women. I think the title is meaningful in that it invites women to talk to each other about what concerns them,” says Sarah Polley. However, the film does not exclude men: a young intellectual played by Ben Whishaw attends the debates. “It was essential to show that there are men ready to listen to and respect women,” insists the director.
The double Oscar nomination (best adapted screenplay and best film) of Women Talking, a work where women are in the majority on both sides of the camera, has thrown an unexpected spotlight on this harsh work. “I never thought that a story featuring a female conversation about rape could attract voters,” admits Sarah Polley. This may be a sign that mentalities are changing in the right direction on the Hollywood side.