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Trailer Watch: Sarah Polley Tackles Religion, Community, and Sexual Assault in “Women Talking”

“It was all waiting to happen before it happened,” we’re told in a new trailer for “Women Talking.” “You could look back and follow the breadcrumbs along the path that led to violence. When we looked back, it had been everywhere.” Based on a true story, Sarah Polley’s adaptation of Miriam Toews’ 2018 novel takes place in a remote religious community and sees its women struggling to plan for the future and reconcile with their faith in the aftermath of a series of sexual assaults.

The drama’s star-studded cast includes Frances McDormand, Rooney Mara, Jesse Buckley, and Claire Foy. “Hope for the unknown is good. It is better than hared of the familiar, and we cannot endure any more violence,” Mara’s character says. Another woman adds, “We have been preyed upon like animals — maybe we should respond like animals.”

“In ‘Women Talking,’ a group of women, many of whom disagree on essential things, have a conversation to figure out how they might move forward together to build a better world for themselves and their children,” Polley shares in her director’s statement. “Though the backstory behind the events in ‘Women Talking’ is violent, the film is not. We never see the violence that the women have experienced. We see only short glimpses of the aftermath. Instead, we watch a community of women come together as they must decide, in a very short space of time, what their collective response will be. When I read Miriam Toews’ book, it sunk deep into me, raising questions and thoughts about the world I live in that I had never articulated. Questions about forgiveness, faith, systems of power, trauma, healing, culpability, community, and self-determination. It also left me bewilderingly hopeful.”

Polley made her feature directorial debut with 2006’s “Away From Her,” for which she received an Oscar nod for adapted screenplay. She followed it up with 2011 Michelle Williams-starrer “Take This Waltz.” Polley landed a DGA Award nomination for her 2012 doc “Stories We Tell.”

Also an actor, Polley’s on-screen credits include “Dawn of the Dead” and “The Sweet Hereafter.”

McDormand is a four-time Oscar winner who was last seen in “The Tragedy of Macbeth.” Mara landed nods for “Carol” and “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.” Buckley was nominated for best supporting actress this year for “The Lost Daughter.” Foy won an Emmy for “The Crown.”

Penned by Polley, “Women Talking” hits select theaters December 2 and expands December 25.

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