3rd September 2020

I Am Woman Review: Every Woman Should See It, And Every Man Too

I Am Woman(Video On Demand)

Starring  Tilda Cobham-Hervey as Helen Reddy,Danielle Macdonald as Lilian Roxon, Evan Peters as Jeff Wald

Directed  by Unjoo Moon

Rating: *** ½

Let me  confess to a  bias. I love Helen Reddy’s songs, not just the anthemic ‘I Am Woman’ but  all her hits that I grew up humming  along with that  enchantingly rasping  voice. To my generation, Helen Reddy is THE WOMAN.

I waited for  her  bio-pic and I am happy to say  it lives  up to all expectations. Helen Reddy epitomized  the  woman’s voice in  the  rock n roll movement at  a time women when were welcomed  into the  Billboards chart  only if they wore leather jackets and spiked boots.

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 Helen Reddy arrived in  New York from Australia  with  just her little daughter  and  big dreams.  This is  the  story  of her rise to supreme fame,  her  iconic  position  in the world of pop music after she sang her way into the  halls of fame and  feminism with  the  anthemic   ‘I Am Woman’

Happily this film is much more than  a  pretext to  play that evergreen song on the screen . It is  a mirror  of  the prejudices women in the 1970s  and 80s handled in  the male-dominated music industry of America.When Helen Reddy(played superbly by  Tilda Cobham-Hervey) lands at a  music producer’s office, the  casually  sexist attitude is put forward  with  an exasperating exactitude.

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When she tells him she is divorced the  dickhead  drawls, ‘What happened, Honey.He forgot  tour birthday?’

But  this is  not film  flashing badges  of  seething sisterhood.

 Rather than torpedo the  narrative with  marching tropes,  I Am  Woman focuses on the woman’s struggle to make her voice heard , in more ways than one.As Helen’s guide manager  and  partner Jeff Wald  who  eventually betrays her  trust , actor Evan Peters reminded me  of  Dev Anand in  Vijay Anand’s Guide.  Yes, he uses her . But then, so does she.

Besides Helen Reddy, played with a  looming luminiscence by Tilda Cobham-Hervey,  there are only two  other principal characters  in  the  film, the third being her friend  journalist  Lilian  Roxan(Danielle Macdonald) whom Helen betrays  out of a misplaced  feeling of  professional distrust.

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For those who grew up with the voice of  Helen Reddy I Am Woman is  more than  a well-made bio-pic. Its all-encompassing  humanism  and the applause –worthy rendering of  Reddy’s  popular songs had me clapping and singing. Even as a  bio-pic  about a woman  who  claws her  way out of  perennial patriarchal  prejudices I  Am Woman –to borrow  phrase  from the song—is strong, invincible…

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