Friday, October 7, 2011
THE WOMAN (2011)
Directed by Lucky McKee
Pollyanna McIntosh - The Woman
Angela Bettis - Belle Cleek
Sean Bridgers - Chris Cleek
When a successful country lawyer captures and attempts to "civilize" the last remaining member of a violent clan that has roamed the Northeast coast for decades, he puts the lives of his family in jeopardy.
When I first found out that The Woman was playing the festival circuits I was quite happy to hear about it. One of the reasons why is because Jack Ketchum is a great storyteller that doesn't pull any punches when it comes to his work. Another reason I got excited about The Woman was because it was directed by Lucky McKee. After watching May (which I love by the way) I think he is one of the fringe directors that is worth watching no matter what. Yet The Woman was supposed to be highly controversial, which just piqued my wanting to watch it even more. So how was the movie?
As for the acting everyone did an amazingly good job through and through, but two stood out from the rest. The first one was Sean Bridgers as Chris Cleek, the patriarch of the Cleek family. Even though when he is first introduced he seems almost normal except for he seemed lazy. It's only throughout the film that we see just how messed up the character is. From basically doing nothing around his home to help out except for making everyone else do everything, to hitting his wife or any female that disagrees with him, Chris Cleek is everything I despise in abusive men and husbands. I can easily go into what his religious views are (NAR and the Dominionism anyone) but I'll reframe. Lauren Ashley Carter, who plays Peggy Cleek, though is the viewers way into the family and the one moral compass in the whole film. Peggy you can tell is trapped in a world she doesn't want and is afraid of, but doesn't know what to do except to stay quiet unless something really bothers her. Throughout the whole film she acts afraid of her secret of being pregnant coming out as well. Now this alone isn't that bad, but with her family life and the hints of who the actual father could be just makes her the one lone sympathetic character in the film.
As for Lucky McKee's directing and how he put the film together has to be talked about as well. The look is mostly clean, but yet at the same time seems somewhat distorted as if almost every scene is somewhat slightly out of focus which actually adds to the feel of the film. The music used in the film is one of the things that got me though. I read online how some people found the musical choices poor as it didn't fit the scene or the emotion that was happening in it. To me though, it felt like after hearing it there was no other choice. Yes, you wouldn't expect a happy sounding song to play during a violent scene, but by doing this, it just made the scene more jarring and much more hard hitting. I applaud who ever was in charge of gathering the music for the soundtrack.
The actual feel of the film is just incredible. Now I'm going to go ahead and say that the first part of the film moves a little bit slow. Not Audition slow though, as the pace does pick up about halfway through. And that is one of the things that is so brilliant about The Woman. It starts out where everything seems mostly normal for a family with just a few cracks showing through the shine. You are introduced to the whole family and their demeanor in turn. It is only after we're firmly implanted into the family mindset that the film picks up its pace and never slows down and the viewer is stuck just like Peggy Cleek is in the film, watching all the happy pieces fall away and we're left with the true horror of the family. And what is even worse is you can't look away as all the dirt and filth is exposed quickly. I'm not going to ruin the true shocks in the film as they are not hinted at in anyway in the film which just makes each scene more brilliant and harder hitting. But the true genius of this film is that it makes you feel something at the end. Whether it's disgust, filthy, or just a feeling of being hit over the head with a sledge hammer, The Woman makes you feel something. As for me, I felt like I was ran over by a truck after watching it and I want to thank Lucky McKee for it, as only two other films made me feel that way (The River's Edge and Se7en were the films). He made a film that shows true horror. To bad most people won't watch it.
Chris Cleek's more than deserving slow painful evisceration.
Says the man with nine fingers.
Chris Cleek repeatedly uses the word "anophthalmia" in reference to one of his daughters. Unilateral anophthalmia is the congenital absence of one eye, and bilateral anophthalmia is the congenital absence of both eyes.
The Woman is a sequel to the 2009 movie Offspring, also written by Jack Ketchum.
The Woman has won multiple international movie awards. And well deserved in my eyes.
Writer Jack Ketchum has a role in the movie Header based off of Edward Lee's book of the same name. Edward Lee also has a role in the same movie.
Stay after the credits to watch what happens to the youngest daughter. It just made the film have much more of an impact.