Adorned with sunglasses and a pink fur-trimmed robe, Jean (Rachel Brosnahan) is sitting on her patio chair and drinking champagne. Bobbie Gentry’s “I Wouldn’t Be Surprised” – one of the film’s many soulful needle drops – fills the ears. Jean isn’t very worried. The chic woman lives with her husband Eddie in a modern suburban house (Bill Heck) where her biggest problem for the first few minutes is finding scissors to bring down the price of her robe. But their outwardly idyllic life changes when Eddie surprisingly shows up with an adopted baby.
In her role as a mother, she fights: when she tries to eat breakfast, she prepares burnt toast and stiff eggs. She goes out of her way to calm her baby down from crying. But soon Jean’s life is troubled. Eddie leaves and doesn’t come back. Instead, Eddie’s partner bursts through the door. Jean has to go. People are looking for Eddie. People are looking for them. You see, Jean and Eddie are the kind of couple who have $ 200,000 tucked away in their shoeboxes just in case. Your life is based on illegal money. Eddie is a thief.
Although Jean and her baby Harry Eddie’s partner Cal (Arinzé Kene) and taken to a safe house, it is far from safe. On her journey, she not only has to grapple with the truth about Eddie, but also discover a semblance of independence. Set in the 1970s with “I am your wife, “Director Julia Hart creates an exciting picture that thoughtfully transforms the normally male-dominated crime genre into an equally entertaining narrative of motherhood and autonomy with a female front.
“I am your wife” borrows its title from Welded Tuesday“I am your wife and you are my man” in Michael Mann1981 thriller “Thief. ” Similar to James CaanJean has a void in this film: she wants a family. By reinterpreting the sentence from a woman’s perspective, Hart transforms the confident line into a line of uncertainty. Can Jean be her own person next to Eddie? Can she be a good mother? As a self-confessed horrible cook, Cal leaves her in the safe house with her baby. While she waits for Eddie’s fate, Cal gives her a rule for her stay: Don’t talk to anyone.
Hart drives us patiently into this world. She is slowly peeling back the secrets. But it also confuses us in a violent moral ambiguity. Rachel Brosnahan – the star of the comedy series “The wonderful Mrs. Maisel”- holds together a tightly twisted narrative that still finds time to amuse itself in Jean’s struggle with motherhood. Whether it’s the sleepy nights triggered by Harry’s crying or the evening stroller that goes through the dark neighborhood, Jean buckles up under the daily strain.
The film’s indulgences apply to its appearance as well. From Natalie O’Brien’s Retro costumes yet lively costumes that match the sophisticated production design and stage set of the drama of the time Bryce Fortners The hard cinematography – the restrained lighting of which is often reminiscent of the work of Gordon Willis from the 1970s – is elaborately designed in every frame of Hart’s crime drama, so that the wide-angle lens can happily consume the magnificence. Still, Hart can linger too long. Though the safe house sequence ends with a bang, combing Jean’s exhaustion with her paranoia gives the bow more than it can chew. Like Jean, the narrative remains neutral. And while this is by design, the effect feels too strong.
“I am your wife” picks up speed again as Jean joins Cal’s family – his wife Teri (Marsha Stephanie Blake, with a thrilling performance), his son Paul (Da’Mauri Parks) and his father kind (Frankie Faison) – in his cabin. Here, Hart does a wonderful job building her characters. For example, Jean begins to fill up from a woman frozen in fear to become increasingly active. She wants answers. Hart’s ability to make female characters, black or white, is impressive. Take your film “Fast color, “This follows three generations of super-powered black women. Hart and her husband and co-writer Jordan HorowitzNot only did they build a shrewd mythology, but they also took advantage of the history of government forces using African American bodies as fuel for culling agriculture. In “I Am Your Wife”, Hart and Horowitz highlight Jean’s privilege as a white woman.
For example, Jean is unaware of the violence that arises far from the confines of her fashionable suburban home. She is surrounded by vicious men but has never used a gun. On the other hand, Teri lives in a residential building in the rough city. She navigates with ease through an underworld that Jean comfortably ignored for years. And when Jean falsely equates her struggle as a white woman with that of Teri as a black woman, she verbally returns such ideas. Teri didn’t arrive in the cabin to be Jean’s magical black best friend. It arrived because it is capable. And for this purpose Stephanie Blake, who was previously in “Luce” and “When they see usAgain is awesome.
Hart connects these characters from the heart. Jean sees a tenderness in Cal’s family that she has dreamed of, but which she finds difficult to find with Eddie. In good segments, Cal and Art take care of Harry. Above all, however, Teri and Jean see mothers at eye level who protect their respective children. Teri gives Jean trust and the new mother courageously becomes independent, which leads the couple to venture into the shabby underworld. The family scenes are some unconventional digressions for a crime drama, but these small, deliberate steps are what make the payoff so valuable. In fact, the final act contains more than a few memorable scenes.
A stunning picture is a club dipping into a mad rush on the streets. Hart has used hundreds of extras for this moment, and it’s so refreshing to see a large format cinematic filled with a crane picking up the crowd and populated with real people. The energy they bring, a delicious danger, is just different. The last act also contains parts of the catharsis. Imagine that Jean is sitting in a laundromat wet from the rain. You can’t tell if she’s about to laugh or cry, but her yowling erases any doubt. Brosnahan staggers in this slow burning thriller. And others, like a car accident, breathe in brutality in one breath and tenderness out with another.
Hart found new perspectives in “Fast Color” and she did the same with “I am your wife”. This is an incredibly entertaining movie until the last minute. It is played wonderfully and processed appropriately. Above all, however, there is a slight force emanating from the coarse-grained frame. “I am your wife” is madness that will take you to unconventional places if you have the patience to let yourself be carried away in its quiet visceral moments. [B+]
“I Am Your Wife” opens in select cinemas on December 4th and on Amazon Prime Video on December 11th.