I have often been called a film snob by many a so called friend. On reflection, they may have a point. I tend to steer away from any film that has leading actors in it that I have never heard of. Silly, I know. As I do have previous experience of being amazed at unknown actors in films. Per esempio, I had no idea who Tom Hardy was when I sat down with my Gerbil Geri Halliwell to watch ‘Bronson’. Something about the half-naked, muscular moustachioed man caught my eye. Can’t think why. So we sat down together, and it became obvious in the first thirty-seconds that he was going to become the fine actor he is today. If you have not seen it, please seek it out. A masterpiece of theatrical film making.
Anywhooo, back to this week’s film. ‘I Am Woman’. It is about a singer called Helen Reddy, who I had never heard of, with a cast of unknown actors, to me at any rate, doing their best to tell the true story of how one woman became the voice of all women across America. Helen left her home in Australia to find her pot of gold at the end of the rainbow that is the good old US of A. This being the late nineteen sixties, the sexism and machismo meant that most record companies failed to recognise her talent, leaving that particular pot of gold tarnished and dull.
That is until meeting pop manager Jeff Ward at a party, where love blossoms, they marry, and he tries in vain to get record companies to sign her up and get her radio play. Eventually, Reddy recorded an album, and tucked away quietly inside it was a self-penned song titled ‘I Am Woman’. Nobody was more shocked than Reddy herself when somehow it garnered huge radio play and became an anthem of what was then known as ‘the women’s liberation movement’. One can see why, with the main lyric being “I am woman, hear me roar, in numbers too big to ignore … I am strong, I am invincible, I am woman.” Who could possibly argue?
I must admit, the film has a slight air of an afternoon tv special, the script is predictable in places, and some of the characters, especially the music executives, seem somewhat stock, or over-exaggerated. But, as I was not part of that world in the nineteen seventies, as Annie Lennox once said, ‘who am I to disagree?’. However, I found Tilda Cobham-Hervey entirely believable as a woman overtaken by events, and at times almost uncomfortable with the role that seemed to be thrust upon her as a spokesperson for every woman in America.
Sadly, her husband was not the greatest carer of her financial situation, (again, another sign of the times), and slowly her career declined and she gave up performing. Reddy did, however, give one last remarkable performance in two thousand and seventeen, (two years after being diagnosed with dementia) when she performed ‘I Am Woman’ at ‘The Woman’s March at Washington’ to a staggering seven hundred and fifty-thousand people. A wonderful way to bow down and exit stage left.
I know my opinion is just that, mine. We are all entitled to our own. But I have read some other reviews of this film that I personally consider to be unkind. So it doesn’t have Julia Roberts in a lead role, and it obviously did not have a hundred million dollar budget. But it is a story that needs to be told, and I personally believe it has been told well. Two things made this film particularly poignant. Reddy passed away the day after I saw it, and as always with biopics from the past, there are credits at the end informing you as to what happened to the main players, and what effect they may have had on the world. I am not going to spoil this for you, should you choose to watch it, but one particular fact left me speechless. I could not believe what I was reading in the year twenty-twenty. And for all you men out there, this is not a ‘chick-flick’, this film is about your mothers, your sisters, your wives, your girlfriends. Watch it and learn.
God Save the Queen. Lord bless you all. Same time next week fellow film lovers.