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State of Independents: Tell It Like A Woman

In his first review for Blackpool Social Club, indie film reviewer Christian Lisseman views a collection of short films highlighting the lives of women across the globe.

This collection of seven short films draws on the talents of an array of female directors and acting talent, including Catherine Hardwicke (director of the first Twilight movie) and model and actor Cara Delevingne (recognisable from 2016’s Suicide Squad), in a range of stories which explore the lives of various women in locations around the world.

The first two films in Tell It Like A Woman have a similar feel and theme. The first, Pepcy & Kim, stars Jennifer Hudson (pictured) as female prison inmate Kim, an addict plagued with mental health problems and haunted by her troubled past. It’s an engaging and fantastically acted piece and could easily be developed into a feature-length film. Indeed, the constraints of the limited running time mean the editing is a little too choppy at times.

The second, Elbows Deep, takes place in pandemic-hit LA where, much like in the UK, hotels were converted into temporary accommodation for the city’s homeless population. Here we follow Dr Tartovi (Marcia Gay Harden) and a nurse as they encounter a troubled young woman on a hotel roof top. It’s an intimate and focussed piece, showing how the pair carefully build up a relationship with Validation (as the young woman calls herself) and then start to clean her up, stripping her of the layers of clothes that she’s dressed herself in.

Each of these two films is followed by a short segment that reveals something of the real women behind the stories, and it’s a strong start to the anthology, but unfortunately doesn’t provide a template for what follows.

Among the other offerings is a sentimental tale about an over-stretched mum juggling work in a takeaway with bringing up two demanding kids in Japan, a story about a busy Italian woman who finds herself suddenly confronted with adopting a young girl when her sister dies, and a sometimes-surreal tale about sexual awakening in Mumbai.

These three stories are engaging enough but are weaker and slighter in tone by comparison to the opening two acts. At least Unspoken returns to the “based on a true story” idea, in a tale about an Italian vet (Margherita Buy) who finds herself face to face with a young British woman desperate to escape her abusive husband.

The final film is a beautiful piece of animation which celebrates both filmmaking and women in film. It’s an important message but comes at the end of something that misses the mark a little in celebrating the talents and experiences of the women involved in the creation of this film.

Tell It Like A Woman is available now on digital download. Read more reviews from Christian Lisseman at stateofindependents.uk 

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