The new Women Talking trailer tells you it’s a quality-level thing for smart women…grim, somber, articulate, muted palette, lotsa dialogue. I can only tell you that as much as I recognized the pedigree and respected the aims of Sarah Polley’s film (UA Releasing, 12.2), I looked at my watch at least seven or eight times.

Posted on 9.9.22: Step outside the woke-critic realm and there’s a sizable body of opinion (or so I determined after speaking with Telluride viewers) that Sarah Polley‘s Women Talking is a static, dialogue-driven #MeToo chamber piece that could be fairly described as a “tough sit.”

Based on Miriam Toews’ 2018 novel, which is “loosely based on real-life events that occurred in 2011 at the Manitoba Colony in Bolivia,” Women Talking is about several women dealing with corrosive sexual trauma.

Set within an isolated American Mennonite community, Women Talking focuses on a nocturnal, seemingly dusk-to-dawn discussion inside a barn, and focuses on eight or so women debating whether to leave their community to escape the brutality of several men who have repeatedly drugged and raped them.

Fortified by several first-rate performances (most notably from Jessie Buckley, Rooney Mara and Claire Foy) and currently enjoying a 92% and 90% approval ratings on Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic, respectively, the post-Telluride narrative is that Women Talking will probably be Best Picture-nominated and will certainly be in the running for a SAG Best Ensemble prize.

The other narrative is that this counted-on support for Women Talking will be largely emotional (particularly driven by the overturning of Roe v. Wade) and certainly political.

As I wrote in a 9.5 piece called “Telluride Hive Mind,” “The elite Telluride critic community feels it has no choice but to worship Polley‘s film…politically speaking there’s no upside to not praising it.”

I added that Women Talking is “sturdy and nicely handled as far as it goes, but sitting through it felt confining and interminable. For me, it was almost totally about waiting for it to end.”

The indisputably brave, lone-wolfish Kyle Smith of The Wall Street Journal: “Critically acclaimed as an oblique commentary on the #MeToo moment, it’s an example of a prestige film that is more focused on point-scoring than coherence.”

A sentence in Jordan Ruimy’s mostly negative Toronto assessment, however, gave me pause: “There were women sobbing all around me during the press & industry screening of Sarah Polley’s Women Talking, so I assume the film will work with a large contingent of people. But it fell flat for me.”

Roe v. Wade plus Toronto “sobbing” means Women Talking isn’t going away and will command repeated salutations in award-season assessment articles between now and early ’23 (the Oscar telecast happens on 3.12.23). The bottom line is that, as THR‘s Scott Feinberg suggested during Telluride, a significant percentage of Academy and guild members will probably be less than enthused.

This won’t stop the wokester cabal, of course. They will push for Women Talking with the same fervor they used to (unsuccessfully) take down Green Book, and which some of them will use to diminish Sam Mendes‘ immensely affecting Empire of Light, which will absolutely be Best Picture-nominated…trust me.