This is one of the rarest of things, sadly, a film written, directed and produced by women, featuring a cast of hugely talented females.
Based on the 2018 novel of the same name, written by Miriam Toews, it features the women of a religious community who face regular sexual attacks and need to decided what to do about it.
For years the women of a small, isolated Mennonite colony have suffered a large number of sexual attacks in their sleep, without ever knowing who was doing it, or how it happened.
It’s only when some of the younger girls of the community witness this heinous crime being committed, that they discover who’s behind it, their men folk.
With the one culprit caught in the act, he gets taken away by the authorities, and then all the men follow in support, leaving the women behind with a life-changing decision to make: do nothing, stay and fight, or leave.
Based on a real event that took place in Bolivia, Polley’s film is a thoughtful examination of women’s rights. Essentially it’s a courtroom drama, albeit one set in a hay loft, where the jury are also the victims, left to decide their own fate through debate.
The fact that it’s set within a Mennonite community, the likes of which make the Amish look socially sophisticated, gives it an authentic, old world feel, but there are the occasional clues that pin it in more modern times, 2010 to be exact.
Without the distractions of the modern world, they can focus on the job at hand, which ultimately is the safety of all the women folk in their community. Polley’s impressive cast, that includes Rooney Mara, Claire Foy, Jessie Buckley, Frances McDormand and token male Ben Wishaw, create a compelling atmosphere as discussions get quite heated with so much in the balance. There are some outstanding performances, especially from Buckley, who proves once again what a jaw-dropping talent she is.
And although the majority of it is filmed in one location, the barn, Polley manages to keep things visually interesting throughout, despite it being dialogue heavy.
It’s thought-proving, beautifully written and directed, brimming with some of the finest actresses around right now in top form, making it a film with not only something worth saying, but also needing to be heard - and seen.