Women Talking won the Oscar for Best Adaptive Screenplay. While there is not a person’s death at the center of this compelling drama, the losses and the trauma of the women are legion. This powerful movie will help you ask significant questions about your own losses and grief, and it can help you see some of the surprising things that a grief journey can bring to you.
There is a long history of sexual trauma in this insular religious community. Power and privilege reign and the community’s women are not part of that. Circumstances expose the trauma and call for a reckoning. The women of the community must now determine their future.
When a death or a significant loss occurs, one part of grief is the need to sort through and process the whole of one’s relationship with the person who is gone. That is why the adage, “Just think about the good times” is not a helpful one. Our relationship with that person comprises all sorts of experiences; some good and some that we would rather not have had. The wholeness of our relationship must be reconciled.
Women Talking provides a view of the necessity of this reconciliation. It brings in all sides of the relationships these women have lived in. There are good qualities and very difficult ones. There are suggestions about the consequences of each decision. Not all of them are good. Not all of them are bad. It provides a balanced and insightful view. There are questions about their identity, as individuals as well as a community, and how those identities will be shaped moving forward. We also see the place that story and recounting our memories hold in the process of grieving, which is invoked by an image of a long road into the horizon.
Finally, Women Talking lifts up some of the surprises that come with our grieving. We see this recognition that there isn’t one answer or one way through for everyone. There is a both/and quality to the discussion and the freedom for everyone to make their choice. There is also one character, August, the lone male in the movie with any lines of dialogue who provides what I see as the unexpected angels or messengers that often come our way in our grief. They are the person with the thought or the statement that helps to clarify a situation. They are the one who provides us a place to rest in our struggle. They are the people who come to us and don’t try to fix or explain our grief, but just to be with us in it.