I’ve been listening to Sarah Polley‘s podcast chat with Megan Daum (“The Unspeakable”). There’s a special focus, of course, on Polley’s Women Talking (UA Releasing, 12.23). Which many will respect but few outside of the feminist #MeToo take-power community is going to love…be honest.

Within its own realm Women Talking is a “respectable” effort, but it’s still a dialogue-driven political piece — a dimly-lighted, dusk-to-dawn discussion among several Mennonite women in a barn, about how they should respond to a series of horrific rapes within their community. The question is “do we stay or do we go?”

The question for critics is “where is the political upside for me if I say I have problems with this?” The answer is there is none, which is why almost all the critics (especially the wokester Branch Davidian types) have completely fallen for Polley’s film while insisting it’s a Best Picture contender

I know what Women Talking is, good and not-so-good, and that it’s aimed at a certain mindset and demographic even. Anyone who says “this film is just wonderful and eloquent and powerful and you simply have to see it”…if that’s all they say, they’re absolutely lying by omission.

From her first professional encounter with callous behavior on Terry Gilliam‘s The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (’88), Polley has been very concerned about safety…safety on sets, protection from abusers. This is partly who she is, what she’s experienced…naturally she’s drawing from this well. She’s a serious person and a serious filmmaker.

It’s just that her film didn’t speak to my older-white-dude way of seeing things. It certainly didn’t reach in and touch me. I was checking my watch, waiting for it to end.

Women Talking‘s basic idea is basically “stand up to the pigs…condemn them, abandon them, isolate them.” Agreed! But the idea isn’t that a few sex-starved, cold-blooded Mennonite men are brute beasts, but that the overall patriarchy (straight white men) is to be regarded with extreme suspicion as too many white males seem amoral, heartless and exploitive. They probably need to be fought tooth & nail and perhaps even overthrown.

Last September a friend opined that Polley’s film is “almost comically male-hating.” When the wimpy and wimpering Ben Whishaw is the only male they can trust, you know what Polley is saying…”tearful, guilt-stricken-on-behalf-of-their-gender gay men are cool but forget straight guys!!”

Really? There isn’t one decent straight guy in the community who can be trusted? Not one regular dude who’s disgusted by the rapes and pledges to support the women? Imagine how the film could be spiritually and emotionally opened up, so to speak, if there was such a character. Or if a second straight male were to intrude only to speak skeptically about the assaults and argue against leaving.

Women Talking is oppressive because (a) it’s oxygen-starved and visually claustrophobic, (b) there’s no dramatic tension to speak of because from the perspective of the horribly brutalized victims it’s ludicrous to argue for staying, (c) the characters don’t sound like isolated Mennonites but smart, educated, worldly women playing their idea of isolated Mennonites.

Presumably some HE regulars have seen it and would care to weigh in?