Adelaide Film Festival 2020: I Am Woman

What: I Am Woman

When: 23 October 4:30pm (last screening)

Cost: See AFF website for details

Image: New York Times

Any liberal grandmother is going to eat this slice of nostalgia cake right up! I Am Woman has pockets of greatness and leaves you feeling empowered, but unfortunately, overall fails to balance its story and flesh out its messages. 

The biopic unfolds in a formulaic and predictable manner in terms of character tropes and doesn’t add anything new to the game. However, it clearly struck a chord in many older (white) women in the audience, and that’s great. 

Personally, it felt like a lost opportunity to provide a feminist angle more relevant to today. Instead we get an undeveloped and one-dimensional message (what even is intersectionality?), that was overshadowed by your typical film of marriage and rising star drama. If that’s what you’re after, just watch A Star is Born instead.

For what it is worth, Helen Reddy’s story is an inspiring one, a single mum who packed up and flew from Australia to New York with hopes of stardom and fame. We follow Helen through the trials she faces and a glimpse at the history of the Women’s Movement during the 70s.

Her hit song, I Am Woman was the unofficial anthem of the Women’s Movement at the time, and it’s bold lyrics continue to inspire and uplift women today. It was also surprisingly the first song that a female Australian artist won a Grammy for.

Image: Adelaide Film Festival

This biopic captured all of Helen’s iconic career moments, some excellent cinematography (that lighting!) and was held up by Tilda Cobham-Hervey. Tilda is an Adelaide (woo!) born actress, and not only is she a sensation as Helen, but carries the film on her shoulders. 

Despite some cheesy lines and unconvincing accents (which really threw me) the sense of empowerment and the degree of crowd-pleasing meant that I almost didn’t care. Also, with Helen’s recent passing, it was a reminder of the Australian music legend she was. Her songs are timeless, and her legacy is everlasting. It is worth a watch if you, or your grandma are a fan of Helen! 

3/5 stars

Rachel Wong

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