Sarah Polley faucets her personal previous for ‘Women Talking’
Writing the screenplay for “Women Talking” required a rigor and ruthlessness I used to be beforehand unacquainted with. I’ve by no means written so many drafts of something, and all the time, on the finish of the work I had set out for myself, I might see much more forward of me. It wasn’t a query of enlargement however certainly one of fixed focus. How might I inform this story effectively and never let it linger, whereas nonetheless giving us the house to return to, and kind via the which means of a phrase like “forgiveness,” which shifts and turns into extra nuanced because the characters’ dialog deepens?
The movie needed to transfer like a bullet whereas concurrently giving us crucial breaths to assume.
At some level within the writing course of, I noticed that in an effort to monitor their trajectory respectfully, I needed to write two passes from every of the 9 foremost characters’ perspective. Even if a personality wasn’t lively in a scene, they have been affected — and generally essentially modified — by the exchanges taking place on the opposite facet of the room. I wanted to offer every of those girls an opportunity to be the one vital character in my thoughts for a few drafts, to trace the trivialities of every of their emotional and mental responses to the unfolding dialog.
In order to seize the spirit of the novel, I typically discovered myself having to withstand my want to hew too carefully to it. I started with a board of index playing cards on my wall, every of which described a “non-negotiable” second from the novel that would not be reduce from the movie model. As I lookup at that bulletin board now, with its yellow and blue playing cards, emphatically declaring the moments I cherished an excessive amount of to ever half with, I see that greater than half of them both weren’t shot or have been reduce within the modifying room.
I used to be equally connected to the chic narration of August, the male character whose minutes of a gathering we’re studying because the voice of the novel. While this works so fantastically within the e-book, we realized deep into the edit that for us to really feel linked to the movie, it was important to listen to this story via a feminine voice. I needed to go away for per week and write, stream of consciousness, from the attitude of the youngest character within the room (performed by the nice Kate Hallett), as she grapples with the previous from an unknown future. To do that, I needed to mine my very own experiences in a method I had beforehand averted.
Up thus far within the course of, a few of my favourite traces had come straight from my collaborators’ private experiences; the road “Sometimes forgiveness can be confused with permission” got here from somebody on the manufacturing who had skilled home violence and ultimately realized that each time she had verbally forgiven her associate, it had truly functioned as permission for him to be violent along with her once more. Greta’s apology to Mariche for her complicity in her daughter’s abuse was knowledgeable by a crew member sharing that he had by no means acquired such an apology from his mother and father in a parallel scenario, and he helped us perceive what he would have wanted to listen to and see in an effort to transfer ahead in a relationship along with his mother and father.
Now, having to write down narration from the attitude of a 16-year-old woman processing violence and observing, with brutal honesty, the advanced dynamics of her neighborhood’s response required me to convey a few of my very own previous experiences to the desk within the method that so a lot of my forged and crew already had. This narration was by far probably the most difficult factor I’ve ever needed to write.
Making this movie was a relentless technique of letting go. Letting go of the construction and plenty of particulars of the novel I cherished so deeply in an effort to spiritually hew nearer to it; letting go of the concept that I used to be ever going to be completed with this dialog; letting go of earnestness in favor of humor and pleasure; letting go of issues I dearly cherished however that not belonged. It was liberating and it was painful.
The greatest scene I’ve ever shot in my life is an alternate from the novel by which Uncle Earnest, the proprietor of the hayloft, out of the blue seems as the ladies are about to depart on the finish of the movie. He has dementia, and at first wonders in the event that they could be angels and he could be useless. He additionally turns into threatening as he wonders in the event that they could be about to burn down his barn. This sudden impediment within the last 10 minutes, from a confused, lovable and generally threatening male interloper, turns right into a second of hilarity and profound disappointment as Agata, one of many elders, should persuade him to return to his home with one of many youthful girls in an effort to conceal their plans, which contain his abandonment.
They love him and should grapple with their advanced emotions about leaving him behind, however their precedence should be to set forth into one other world by which they could be liberated. How painful it was to appreciate that this scene by which David Fox and Judith Ivey did such masterful work didn’t belong within the movie. While it labored fantastically in isolation, it slowed down the essential urgency of the result of the dialog we had been residing in for an hour and a half, and it needed to go in an effort to be respectful to the entire.
While the expertise of constructing this movie was, at its core, certainly one of pleasure, this was additionally certainly one of many such heartbreaks, and if making this movie taught me something, it’s how one can reside alongside heartbreak, to see its important operate and let it propel me ahead quite than maintain on too tightly to what I used to consider.