I’m Your Woman
Jean (Rachel Brosnahan) is a seemingly contented housewife when one day her husband Eddie (Ed Burns lookalike Bill Heck, TV's 'Locke & Key') comes home holding an infant. ‘It’s our baby, Jean,’ he tells her, handing the child over. He smiles indulgently when, baby on hip, she burns his breakfast the next morning, then tells her he won’t be home that night. She’ll never see him again, whisked away for her own safety with Cal (Arinzé Kene, "How to Build a Girl"), a man she’s never met, in “I’m Your Woman.”
Laura's Review: B
Cowriter (with her "Fast Color" collaborator Jordan Horowitz)/director Julia Hart looks at the flip side of the criminal life from the point of view of a wife who, while aware of how her husband makes his money, is largely shielded from the lifestyle. Then Hart doubles down, introducing a second wife who is as street smart as Jean is naïve. The film is a low key genre effort that much like Hart’s female-centric take on the Superhero genre goes to some unexpected places.
While we’re still wondering just where Eddie found the infant Jean names Harry (the adorably photogenic Jameson & Justin Charles), one of his accomplices shows up in the middle of the night to give her a gun, 200K and the order she needs to leave right away. Neither he nor Cal has any idea where Eddie is, but ‘people’ are looking for him…and her. Cal surprises both Jean and us by exhibiting a soothing touch with Harry, but when the baby develops a fever, he cannot talk Jean out of going to the nearest ER. The interracial couple is soon spotted. On the run, they’re questioned by a suspicious cop and Jean surprises with her ability to concoct a plausible story on the fly. Cal deposits her and Harry in a safe house in an older neighborhood of two story brick fronts, dated but clean, its kitchen fully stocked, giving her a phone to plug in (this is the ‘70’s) and a number to call in case of emergency with a strict warning to speak to no one.
At this juncture, Hart’s film feels like a slow burn romance, Cal’s gentle chivalry in the face of Jean’s vulnerability an appealing coupling. But Hart has something else up her sleeve, the film’s midsection like a railway switch signaled by the arrival of Evelyn (Marceline Hugot, "Blow the Man Down," memorable), a neighbor ‘from two doors down.’ The violence suggested by Jean’s abrupt removal from her home comes to fruition in shocking ways and when the dust settles, Jean finds herself implanted with Teri (Marsha Stephanie Blake, Netflix's 'When They See Us'), Teri’s father Art (Frankie Faison, "The Silence of the Lambs") showing her how to fire a gun, Teri’s son Paul demonstrating the hiding place beneath the kitchen floor. A tarted up trip to a disco will lead to a deadly car chase presaging unseen, final heroics.
Brosnahan is a bit of a cipher here, her performance guarded and reactive in ways that befit her character. Hart achieves a lot of personality from her production design, Jean’s home with Eddie all 70’s chic tri-level, its predominant yellow suggesting gold before the glum wooden paneling of her second lodging. The third house is more rustic vacation cabin than home, Jean stepping further and further back to basics throughout her journey.
Robin's Review: B
Jean (Rachel Brosnahan) struggles to get the price tag off a dress when Eddie (Bill Heck) walks in holding a baby. “He’s ours…he’s your baby,” he declares, and then leaves for a night out with the boys. But, that night ends in betrayal and Jean, with the help of Cal (Arinze Kene), must go on the lam in “I’m Your Woman.”
As I watched writer-director Julia Hart’s fourth feature I had a strong sense of director Michael Mann’s 1981 action drama, “Thief,” starring James Caan. I will not go into a lengthy synopsis of the story about, as you may guess, an uber-high level jewel thief. But, a part of that man’s story involved a woman (Tuesday Weld) who represents a stable and wholesome life, even with an illicitly-acquired baby. That stability is threatened by the mob and Jessie had to leave, with the baby and a plan that involves a bag of money.
Ever since I saw “Thief” (multiple times) I always wondered what happened to Jesse and the baby. I think that director Hart (with co-scribe Jordan Horowitz) may have answered my question with “I’m Your Woman.” Jessie becomes Jean but the connection I felt with the earlier movie is reinforced.
When Eddie disappears, Cal shows up on Jean’s doorstep and orders her to pack up the baby and leave with him. This begins a journey, with Jean getting savvy to what is going on and what Eddie has done, from one safe house to another with danger always nipping at their heals.
Rachel Brosnahan really grabs the screen and holds it through the film. The character of Jean arcs convincingly, starting as an innocent and, through her trek with Cal, develops an air of assurance and, especially, always protective of baby Harry no matter what.
Jean, during her journey, meets many people who either help or hinder her. You root for the helpers and sneer at the hinderers and invest yourself in the empathy that Jean garners. The character of Cal is important to the story (and to Jean from a survival standpoint) and Arinze Kene fills the role just right. It is a good story, well told and well acted.
"I’m Your Woman" is in theaters and on Amazon on 12/11/2020.