Chew's Reviews - American Woman

By Gary Chew |  

The argument continues among several online music wags about what was the first recording of that rock hit “American Woman.” Many say, The Guess Who. Others swear it was Jimi Hendrix. Some know Lenny Kravitz also sang it, but his was a cover for that goofy THE SPY WHO SHAGGED ME. (We'll long remember the stellar Mike Myers as Dr. Evil … yes? Uh, or maybe it was Fat Bastard?)

There's no confusion about AMERICAN WOMAN, a feature film and a rather lame TV series with the same title. Both appeared in 2018. The feature is just now getting to a theater near me. I got to see it well before its opening, thanks to my small-screen monitor being hooked to the magical internet.

A producer for the 2016 movie MANCHESTER BY THE SEA, Kevin J. Walsh, is also one of the producers of AMERICAN WOMAN. The accomplished Ridley Scott is as well. Jake Scott, Ridley's son, directed it with Brad Ingelsby writing the AMERICAN WOMAN screenplay.

Since I only remember Sienna Miller playing Bradley Cooper's wife in Clint Eastwood's ugly film, AMERICAN SNIPER, this is my first time seeing her in an important leading role. Yet I appreciate why some say her work in Jake Scott's picture is best. I'd say she's excellent in her performance as Debra, a single mom leaning well toward her forties.

MAD MEN's Christina Hendricks, in the role of Debra's young adult daughter, plays Katherine; already the mother of a young son. Debra is a hot grandmother trying to make ends meet, keeping it together as best she can with her daughter and her girl's small boy ... all under the same roof.

Men showing up in AMERICAN WOMAN are not the paragon of stability or trustworthiness. (Please
refer to the movie's title). One dude who comes on to Debra bears some signs of dependability and appropriate husbandry. The second banana meth-cooker in BREAKING BAD, Aaron Paul, is largely seen as such in the film's second half ... and called Chris.

This alone might be enough to carry the plot to its end. But, oh no … none of Debra's love life stuff gets close to the calamity befalling her since, right away in act one, Katherine just freaking vanishes.

Debra, the young grandmother, now is the “mother” of her grandson while she frantically and without
pause tries to find what happened to Katherine. Did she just split? Is Katherine still alive and, if so, where is she? Maybe she's dead after being raped or through some other awful happenstance.

There you go. That's more than enough to keep your attention. And Miller's strenuous, forthright acting brings it all to life, even though the script doesn't make a strong claim to originality.

Debra also has issues with her mother, Peggy. Amy Madigan does that character. Yes Amy, playing a great-grandmother. Well just like me, Amy has gotten on to looking older. (Imagine that.) Madigan, also being in GONE BABY GONE … a story by Dennis Lehane ... caused me to flash on the similarities that film has with the one being reviewed here.

AMERICAN WOMAN is a harrowing watch, well done and never puts a moviegoer through any dull moments. I wouldn't bring any young folks with me to see this one, but the movie makes significant connections to the plight of too many adult females today. Movies about and for women abound.

The song, “American Woman” seems as though it would be a good fit for the closing credits, whoever would sing it. Albeit, if you concentrate on the fundamental message in the lyric, it rather flies in the face of feminism. AMERICAN WOMAN is not a film from which to stay away.

Copyright © 2019 by Gary Chew. All rights reserved.


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