Editor’s note: Deadline’s Read the Screenplay series debuts and celebrates the scripts of films that will be factors in this year’s movie awards race.
Should we stay, or should we go? This is the question asked by the women of an isolated religious community in the awards-contending drama Women Talking, written and directed by Sarah Polley.
The film from MGM’s Orion Pictures, Plan B Entertainment and hear/say is based on the bestselling 2018 novel of the same name by Miriam Toews, itself was inspired by real events within Bolivia’s Manitoba Colony. It’s set in 2010 and watches as women from a similar group grapple with reconciling their realty with their faith. The circumstances tearing them apart are repeated incidents of sexual violence inflicted upon them by their male counterparts, which force them to consider leaving the only world they’ve ever known.
Contrary to what one might expect, given the horrors at the centers of its story, when Polley first read Toews’ book, it left the filmmaker feeling “bewilderingly hopeful” and impacting her profoundly with the questions it raised about “forgiveness, faith, systems of power, trauma, healing, culpability, community, and self-determination.”
Polley adds that when she began contemplating her adaptation, she imagined it as being “in the realm of a fable.” Explains Polley, “I wanted to feel in every frame the endless potential and possibility contained in a conversation about how to remake a broken world.”
The genesis of the story is discussed more in this MGM featurette:
Starring Rooney Mara, Claire Foy, Jessie Buckley, Judith Ivey, Ben Whishaw and Frances McDormand, Women Talking world premiered at the 2022 Telluride Film Festival and opened in select theaters via United Artists Releasing on December 23 before going wide January 20. Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner and McDormand produced the pic, with Brad Pitt, Lyn Lucibello Brancatella and Emily Jade Foley serving as exec producers.
So far this awards season, Women Talking as been recognized with nominations at the Critics’ Choice Awards, Independent Spirit Awards, Gotham Awards and Golden Globes.
Click below to read Polley’s screenplay.