Director; Julia Hart. Starring; Rachel Brosnahan, Arize Kene, Marsha Stephanie Blake. Rated R. Color. 120 minutes.
Ok, this is how this movie starts. Jean (Rachel Brosnahan) is the wife of a true bad guy named Eddie (Bill Heck). She knows it and isn’t one of those whiney bitches about it like many in the history of gangster shows. But the first interaction we get between what we conceive to be our two leads is Eddie bringing home a newborn baby and telling Jean that this is her baby. In an instant we know that “I’m Your Woman” is not going to be your standard crime drama.
Dealing with this child that she has no idea where it came from is tough for Jean as she also has no idea what being a mother is. She sucks it up initially as Eddie is doing his shady dealings. Then one night a fellow mobster and friend of Eddie’s comes rushing into the house and tells Jean that she has to get out of the house immediately. He grabs thousands of dollars he knew Eddie was hiding while Jean grabs her kid who she has named Harry and off she goes. Outside is a mysterious black man she has never seen before named Cal (Arinze Kene) who is waiting and ready to protect her.
Totally confused and frightened, Jean continues to try and find out where Eddie is. Cal cannot tell her the truth. After a few nights in hotels, Cal takes her to a safe house loaded with food and tells her to not go outside and only use the phone to call just one number in case of an emergency. Obviously solitary confinement is impossible to keep up as Jean walks her child along the neighborhood street. Then one day a sweet old lady named Evelyn (Marceline Hugo) comes knocking to welcome the single mother to the neighborhood. The lingering fear of the mob coming exists, but Jean does welcome in the old lady when she brings over a nice home cooked meal. Was she working with the mob or was she simply just a way for them to find Jean? We never do find out.
With a gun to her head as they believe she knows where Eddie is, Cal appears out of nowhere and blasts the bad guys. After that go-around they are going to a safe house in the boonies with no phone. It is Cal’s childhood home. She is once again alone until Cal’s wife and father show up. His wife Teri (Marsha Stephanie Blake) has more in common with Jean than she knows. The father Art (Frankie Faison) is warming and begins to teach Jean how to protect herself. Why? Take a guess. From there I will leave you to discover the rest.
“I’m Your Woman” is a film that is layered with multiple tropes, non-stereotypical situations, and surprises you do not see coming. I thought it was obvious Cal and Jean were gonna get it on. The story between those two characters is something director Julia Hart allows to unfold in a way that is not guessable. The cinematography of Bryce Fortner is exquisite in its simplicity. This DP knows how to hold a frame and how to only be chaotic when the scene requires it. And finally, Rachel Brosnahan. What a performance. The plucky star from “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” has got some serious chops. Brosnahan runs the gamut of emotions here and plays one of those rare female characters in a gangster movie that actually has depth. She better get herself some nominations this year.
Everyone involved with “I’m Your Woman” did a top notch job. 1970’s placed gangster movies tend to keep up a boring formula as they are all trying to recreate the amazing “The Godfather”. Modern day ones do the same thing as well. It is great to see a take that is well done but also unfamiliar. Most critics have just liked this picture so I know I am in the minority here. I think “I’m Your Woman” is in the realm of top 5 mobster pieces in the 21st century.