Tell It Like a Woman

Reviewer: Helen Tope

Writers: Lucia Bulgheroni, Silvia Carobbio, Krupa Ge, Catherine Hardwicke, Mipo O, Lucia Puenzo, Shantanu Sagara, Giulia Louise Steigerwalt, Chiara Tilesi and Leena Yadav

Directors: Lucia Bulgheroni, Silvia Carobbio, Catherine Hardwicke, Taraji P. Henson, Mipo O, Lucia Puenzo, Maria Sole Tognazzi and Leena Yadav

Ambitious in scope, Tell It Like a Woman is a film anthology showcasing seven films from female directors. The stories emphasise empowerment, compassion and self-discovery. The roll-call of talent amassed for this series of films is impressive. Jennifer Hudson, Marcia Gay Harden, Anne Watanbe and Cara Delevingne are among those taking part.

The films are only a few minutes long but narrative is packed in. The anthology features stories about homelessness and the COVID-19 pandemic (Elbows Deep); domestic abuse (Unspoken) and the difficulties of being LGBTQ+ in India (Sharing a Ride). These issues are addressed from a female perspective. Voices that might be sidelined or misinterpreted here get top billing. At the centre of Elbows Deep is the work of Dr. Partovi, a real-life medic based in LA who delivers essential care (and dignity) to the city’s homeless and vulnerable. In Sharing a Ride, cosmetic surgeon Divya (played by Jacqueline Fernandez) discovers a sense of self as she befriends a gay man she shares a cab with after a night out.

While many of the films reach for the big ideas, the most successful are those with a tighter point of reference. A Week in my Life, written by Mipo O, details the daily rituals of single parent, Yuki (Anne Watanbe), taking care of her two children, while holding down a job as a chef. The scenes are enjoyably frantic; getting the kids to school requires a routine of military precision. Watanbe has inherited her father’s skill of doing just enough for the camera: her characterisation never feels rushed. This charming film is the most fully-realised of the anthology. Heart-warming; simple but effective.

While this project doesn’t lack starpower, the problem is that the films themselves yield uneven results. Jennifer Hudson in Pepcy and Kim gives us a powerhouse performance, staring us down as her eyes lock with Taraji P. Henson’s camera. Her portrayal of real-life inmate Kim Carter, as she heads to rehab after prison, is of a quality you would expect from Hudson. The postscript, added by Henson and writer Catherine Hardwicke, reinforces the impact of turning just one life around, that all-important second chance.

Other films are less successful. Lagonegro, directed and written by Lucia Puenzo, is a story about an architect who has to return home to tie up loose ends after a relative’s death. The deceased has left behind a daughter, and the architect Ana (played by Eva Longoria) is her next of kin. The film never really breaks out of stereotypes to make the story interesting. Longoria isn’t able to move beyond the ‘power suit’ trope, and the whole film is just overcooked and unsatisfying.

While this feels like a worthy enterprise, Tell It Like a Woman ultimately suffers from a lack of quality control. It’s a shame, as the good parts of this anthology have a great deal to say about women’s lives, from across boundaries of privilege, race and gender. Whether it’s enough to sustain the project as a whole, is questionable.

TellItLikeAWoman will be available on Digital Download from 8th May.

The Reviews Hub Score:

A lack of quality control

Show More
Photo of The Reviews Hub - Film

The Reviews Hub - Film

The Reviews Hub Film Team is under the editorship of Maryam Philpott.

Related Articles

Back to top button
The Reviews Hub