TIFF 2018 Review: “American Woman” (2018) ★★★★


What happens when a loved one goes missing and decades later the little hope you had simply disappears? No news leads to that heartbreaking realization. How life, in that case, will unfold? Will things go from bad to worse? Or will reality be accepted the way it is? “American Woman”, from writer Brad Ingelsby and director Jake Scott, provides an interesting insight into Deborah’s life after the disappearance of her daughter, a tragedy that re-shapes her life in an unpredictable way.

It all starts as another uneventful day. Deborah just got back from her date with Brad, a married man who appears to have many women. Bridgette is getting ready for her date with Tyler, the father of her infant child. It’s midnight when Jesse starts crying. Deborah comes to the room to calm the baby down. “It’s 8:20 AM, Bridgette. I don’t care how hungover you are. I am not your personal babysitter”, an angry Deborah leaves the voice message to her daughter not knowing that she will never be able to receive it. Not at least in the near future. And the baby, her grandson sleeping in the next room, will have to be raised as her own child.

The character development is fascinating. Deborah, when we first meet her, has messy hair and life. She dates married men and pretty much has no real agenda in her life. Her daughter, Bridgette, followed her mother’s footsteps by getting pregnant at an early age. But it’s after the occurrence of the tragedy that Deborah is forced to revisit her life. Years later, when Jesse reaches age five and Deborah is living with a man named Ray, we soon find out that he’s extremely abusive. But even then, she does not lose hope that her daughter might come back home one day.

To say more about “American Woman” means giving away way too much. Deborah knows that with this child, Jesse, she’s got to do things right. Of course, she is not immune to mistakes but her nature of being a fighter is what makes her an extremely strong woman.

Sienna Miller delivers an impressive performance of a woman who she embodies, studies and gives the light the character seemed was lacking. Through her outstanding portrayal, we learn a lot about Debra, start caring about her, cheering and hoping that she will be alright. Even in her most challenging moments the viewer never loses hope, as they know how courageous this woman is. But as for the film, be prepared for an emotional ride full of ups and downs, tears and laughter, happiness and sadness, just like life itself. Just see it, as there isn’t such a strong character existing in movies and when we find one, we must cherish them dearly.

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