DAILY FILM DOSE: A Daily Film Appreciation and Review Blog: The Woman - Toronto After Dark Film Festival 2011

Friday, 28 October 2011

The Woman - Toronto After Dark Film Festival 2011

The Woman (2011) dir. Lucky McKee
Starring: Pollyanna McIntosh, Sean Bridgers, Angela Bettis, Lauren Ashley Carter, Zach Rand, Shyla Molhusen


By Greg Klymkiw

The Cleek family are living the American Dream! Chris (Sean Bridgers) is a successful back country real estate lawyer with loads of cash, oodles of prime land, a beautiful, devoted wife Belle (Angela Bettis) who puts June Cleaver to shame, three lovely kids including his chip-off-the-old-block son Brian (Zach Rand), a cute-as-a-button little girl with a name to match, Darlin' (Shyla Molhusen) and Peggy (Lauren Ashley Carter), an intelligent, attractive teenage Emo girl privately suffering morning sickness due to possibly being impregnated by her Dad. In the barn are some crazed German Shepherds and a blind, naked feral woman raised with the dogs and tended to by Brian who physically abuses them.

Like all corn-and-steak-fed American men, Chris wakes early in the morning, eats breakfast lovingly prepared by Belle and then, packing a scope rifle and adorned in hunting garb, he smiles and declares how much he loves the quiet of the country before revving up his ATV and tear-assing into the woods for some hunting. To complete this portrait of All-American bliss, one of his hunting trips yields a live trophy - a buxom, beautiful, feral woman from the backwoods that he manacles in the fallout shelter where she is forced to eat food from the floor and/or a Tupperware container and gets scrubbed raw by wifey after being good and hosed down by Dad. When she's first introduced to the family, one of the kids asks if they can really keep her. The answer from Dad is a resounding: YES! After all, she needs to be civilized - a charitable act on Dad's part; even more charitable considering she's already bitten off his ring finger when all he wanted to do was inspect her teeth.

Trussed up and manacled in the dank fallout shelter, the civilization process includes being raped late into the night by Chris while son Brian watches jealously through a peephole. The lovely daughters sleep soundly in their warm, comfortable beds and wifey Belle weeps in the properly accoutered conjugal boudoir at the thought of hubby getting his manly satisfaction elsewhere and, of course, as any eager All American Boy would do, the feral woman, is eventually tortured with wire cutters and sexually abused by the randy little chip-off-the-old-block.


Love it or leave it.

As rendered by director Lucky McKee and his co-screenwriter Jack Ketchum, The Woman is, without a doubt, one of the most foul, wanton and viciously humorous movies of the new millennium. It also seems to be a part of a new wave of films (including those of the brilliant Bobcat Goldthwait) which take family dysfunction several steps further - where dysfunctional depravity has become the norm.

McKee has his actors play everything in a straight deadpan. There isn't a single, out-of-place performance in the entire movie. McKee's mise-en-scene is distinctively sun-dappled-with-dollops-of-blood-and-nastiness and the movie works as both vicious satire and thriller. To say the movie is brutal, would be an understatement of the highest order, but the horrors on display never feel cheap and exploitative the way most torture porn horror films are. This is a savage, raw-nerve-ending-exposed portrait of life in the mean, new America.

As such, it's an unflinching, unyielding ride on the locomotive of excess that has turned one of the world's strongest nations into a veritable third-world country. The movie requires a strong stomach and open mind - anything less and you'll feel like you stepped into your worst nightmare.

So grit your teeth, gird your loins and, enjoy!

The Woman was a closing night film at the Toronto After Dark Film Festival 2011. It's currently in very limited theatrical release and will soon be available on DVD.

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