The Netflix screen promotes a movie with a somber Asian woman looking tearfully at the camera. The description reads, “In hiding and living off the grid, an antiwar activist agrees to take care of three fugitives, including a kidnapped heiress. Inspired by real events.” It stars Hong Chau, Sarah Gadon, John Gallagher Jr, and more. The running time is listed as 1 hour and 52 minutes. The title? American Woman.
I clicked on it, but that’s not the movie that began to play. After watching for a while without seeing an Asian or an antiwar activist, I embarked on a journey that included closing and reopening Netflix, searching for the movie that had been advertised.
Eventually, however, I found myself engrossed in a different film also titled “American Woman”. It’s a remarkable movie about surviving in rural Pennsylvania as a single, working-class mother. Even with significant family support, it’s a challenging journey. Add to that the dramatic twists and turns of relationships, breakups, and tragic loss, and you’ve got a 2018 film that’s heartbreakingly human.
The film features an outstanding performance by Sienna Miller. I’m surprised she didn’t receive any nominations. I’m wondering if it has something to do with gender. The writer and director, both men, have crafted a movie that’s a true showcase for a female lead. She isn’t just a leading lady. Miller’s journey includes various partners, but the narrative is the story of a single mom and grandmother. She is forced to transform herself, repeatedly, to survive — and we see her do it, step by step.
Even though it wasn’t the movie I initially intended to see, “American Woman” proved to be a great watch.
Then, another strange thing happened. I read a review of the movie. I typically look at Rotten Tomatoes ratings before watching a movie but read about the film afterward to form my own opinions first.
I found this review on Observer.com, and it’s quite intriguing. The review is interesting, but the plot synopsis is completely off. I don’t want to spoil the film by giving away the plot, but I promise, having just watched the movie before reading this review, that the character arc of one of the characters is entirely off. It’s as if the review was written based on a different version of the film, or the reviewer cut and pasted a synopsis from an early draft of the screenplay. The actual events in Bridget’s life, as depicted in the movie, are different from those described in this review.
I thought it would be interesting to point this out. Despite not receiving great reception, and being randomly misrepresented, “American Woman” is a worthwhile movie.