Jake Scott (director)
11 October 2019 (released)
07 October 2019
The entire USA has been in state of agitation for the past few years, so we are led to believe from the daily news and suchlike. However away from the headlines, as in most other places, people are just getting on with their lives.
This one of the strands of American Woman as Deb (Sienna Miller) living in blue collar Pennsylvania town trying to do the best for herself, daughter and grandson. The other strand is daughter Bridget (Sky Ferreira) disappears one night leaving mother and family devastated. As the years pass Deb’s resigns herself and slowly gets her life back on track, though never forgetting her daughter.
A borderline alcoholic Deb Callahan seems to have barely any traction with the realities of her life as we find her drifting, workless, battling with her sister and almost at war with her mother. Then Bridget disappears and she’s plunged into a state of utter despair and confusion.
The films subtly shifts forward in time through some deft editing as Deb starts to get to grips with her life, raising her grandson while taking courses and finding work, eventually with some success.
That success isn’t mirrored by the men in her life, who are losers to a T. One jealous and violent, the other a charming rat. It’s complicated though as Deb was no angel as she viciously abused Bridget’s boyfriend (and father of her grandson) at the time of her disappearance only for years later to be reacquainted both older and wiser, Deb admitting her fault.
Brad Ingelsby’s writing is a beautiful study of a character burdened with guilt, unhappiness to the point of almost hopelessness, and the complex dynamics of families. Sienna Miller is astonishing in an emotionally charged and complicated role drawing out Debs’ frustrations and confusions before finally finding her path. It’s a performance that could have overshadowed the rest of the cast but they too are terrific with Christina Hendricks playing her sister Kath is a worthy foil.
Director Jake Scott sketches and colours the town in generally dull shades and hues as the town gets on with life. The truth of the disappearance is resolved in an incredibly moving piece of filmmaking that perfectly blends the actors, music and sound-design in a sequence that is profoundly moving.