• Women talk to each other after being raped in their religious community.
  • Will they stay by forgiving their aggressors or will they choose freedom?
  • Twice cited at the Oscars, "Women Talking" brings together a host of female stars.

How to reconcile faith and daily life? Such is the question that the heroines of Sarah Polley's Women Talking are addressing, based on the novel What They Say by Miriam Toews. To see them, one could live in another century but it is in 2010 that the ordeals of these women drugged and then raped, even very young, by the men of their religious community isolated from the modern world take place.

"They are faced with an almost impossible choice when they accidentally find out what has been done to them," Polley told 20 Minutes. They have only a few hours to decide whether to forgive or leave the community. Female stars like Rooney Mara, Frances McDormand, Claire Foy and Jessie Buckley are part of a stunning cast where everyone can give their opinion.

A universal questioning

"Their questions touched me deeply because they seem to me to go beyond the framework of these women. I think the title is meaningful in the sense that it invites women to talk to each other about what concerns them," says Sarah Polley. However, the film does not exclude men: a young intellectual played by Ben Whishaw attends the debates. "It was crucial to show that there are men willing to listen to and respect women," insists the director.

The double Oscar citation (Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Picture) of Women Talking, a work where women are in the majority on both sides of the camera, put an unexpected spotlight on this bitter work. "I never thought a story about a female conversation about rape would attract voters," Polley said. This may be a sign that mentalities are changing in the right direction on the Hollywood side.

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