An American Woman (2018)

Director: Jake Scott
Starring: Sienna Miller, Christina Hendricks, Aaron Paul, Will Sasso, Pat Healy, Amy Madigan  .USA. 1h m

What starts out to be a melodrama about a woman, almost down on her luck but making the best of her life. Eventually turns into a homage to the resilience of all women, especially those mothers who have had to fight adversity and their own demons and manage to come out bigger and stronger on the other side.

Sienna Miller stars as Debra, a gorgeous thirty something year old single mother, who lives with her daughter and grandson, life is simple in their small town in Pennsylvania. Debra is forever young, she jokes around, enjoys her freedom and is more of a friend to her daughter, Bridget (Sky Ferreira), offering advice about men more than good wholesome patenting, but their bonds is strong, so when Bridget goes missing and Debra is left to look after her grandson Jesse.

Never Lose Hope

Debra’s initial reaction is to lash out. On the night of Bird Its disappearance she left to visit Jesse’s dad, a stoner who seems to play with her emotions. After Debra bursts into his home, he just kicks back with his buds playing video games and insults her character after admitting Bridget visited but they fought and she left to walk home. After some minimal sleuthing she finds out that Bridget visited a friend and from there the  trail falls cold and she has to go to the authorities. From this dreary moment there’s a tonal shift in Debra and she pulls the entire movie into her depression and despair.

Life changes for everyone, Debra especially spirals around her darker emotions, lashing out to her family, her lover and if she could all the gods in heaven. Luckily her long suffering sister lives across the street and their mother, Peggy (Amy Madigan) is nearby. But it takes time before they have to step in and spell out the facts to Debs, they will be there for her but she is going to bounce back.

“You’re a great mother. That never changed.”

Halfway through the movie I started to think that Debra was cursed. I’ve never seen a woman face so many painful setbacks, work, romance, finance, just general bad luck. She really gets dragged through it all, and on top of that is a crushing pain of not knowing what happened to her daughter. Debra is something special and you begin to see the fire in her. The sheer amount of inner strength is outstanding  and despite her age, she finally begins to mature to the point where the audience may well  start to feel proud of her. 

It’s a bittersweet take of a woman who will never give up, takes all life can throw at  her and keeps on keeping on. But is it more than that? Is Debra a symbol of any kind hearted American Woman?! Scott has picked up a lot from his father Ridley, who helped from the  production chair. It’s a solid production which boasts clever and sensitive techniques to deal with the wealth of emotions involved. At critical times the camera acts like a fly on the wall, bouncing off the action, there’s one gripping scene where Debra is fighting with a current boyfriend, as he smashed her to the floor the camera darts under the kitchen table, it’s a matter of eyes are always on the ole girl .

We all want to feel young and pretty, we’d love a lifestyle where we can do as little as possible, enjoy ourselves and really enjoy life, but can we ever take our eye off the ball, is a mother’s job ever done?! I hope this is the most family tragedy anyone has to go through, but hopefully we can learn a few lessons. You’re never too old to grow up and change, never take anyone for granted, and never ever hit your lover and be a dick!

Rating: 6/10


Lists: Mothers in Movies Vol 1

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