Movie review: ‘I’m Your Woman’ is a little slow and too convoluted, but will keep you on edge

Ed Symkus More Content Now
Marsha Stephanie Blake and Rachel Brosnahan play two women on the run. [Amazon Studios]

The 1970s life of Jean and Eddie (Rachel Brosnahan and Bill Heck), in some Pittsburgh suburb, seems routine, kind of humdrum. She makes him breakfast every morning, he heads off to work, she stays home and putters around. No kids, just the two of them. He comes home. Same thing next day. They’re content.

Then everything changes. One day Eddie brings an infant home, and says to Jean, “He’s our baby. It’s all worked out.”

Stunned for a moment, she asks, “Where did you ...” But Eddie cuts her off with a terse, “Not now, Jean.” And that’s the end of that conversation. The tiny boy will be called Harry, and he’ll be a world-class crier. And life goes on.

Then everything changes again. Eddie goes off to work, this time with three pals, one of whom returns alone that night, gun drawn, asks Jean if she’s OK, gives her a large pile of money, hustles her and Harry out of the house. He puts them under the protective care of Cal (Arinzé Kene), a stranger who identifies himself as an acquaintance of Eddie, and doesn’t say much else, but proves to be both a gentleman and a sort of baby whisperer when it comes to criers.

Watching all of this happen so rapidly, you want to call out, the same way poor, confused, frightened Jean does, “Please tell me what’s happening!”

In the short time it takes for Cal to explain that he can’t explain, and that people are looking for Eddie “and for you, too,” which is why he’s bringing them to a hideout, “I’m Your Woman” quickly becomes a road movie, until it becomes a gangster movie and a thriller and a mystery. Cal, Jean, and Harry are on the run, from some unnamed bad guys as well as from the cops.

There’s so much going on in this film, so much of it unclear - to Jean, apparently to Cal, and to anyone watching - I feel justified to divulge the slightest of spoilers: Eddie’s a criminal, and Jean knows it and puts up with it. But it looks like he’s gone too far this time!

So, the trio on the run gets to a well stocked safe house, Cal leaves, after instructing Jean to stay inside and not answer the door. Harry’s crying reaches new heights and, of course, there’s soon a knock on the door.

Things keep happening, then nothing happens, then there’s a feeling that something is going to happen. Then, in this oddly paced film, lots more happens.

Men with guns show up, demanding to know where Eddie is. But remember, Jean and Eddie have a protector in Cal, and even though he left them at the house, he’s still accountable for their safety.

Well into the film’s two-hour running time, some answers to some questions start popping up, most of them about the pasts of Jean and Eddie. Cal doesn’t reveal much personal information, but you feel that he’s trustworthy, even likable. With the introduction of some additional characters - Teri (Marsha Stephanie Blake) and Art (Frankie Faison) are the important ones - the film becomes even more complicated, but in an engrossing way.

Though everything bad that’s happening is eventually traced back to Eddie’s errant behavior, the story is really more about Jean, and how she copes with it all. It’s too bad that something’s missing in Rachel Brosnahan’s (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”) performance. Maybe it was her choice, maybe it was director Julia Hart’s, but she seems to be holding back, not letting us understand what’s going on in Jean’s head. You have to strain a little to root for her. She’s in a bad way but she doesn’t earn enough of our sympathy to really care about her.

Near the end, somebody pushes the “send many plots in different directions at once” button and the film has characters pouring out their most inner secrets while trying to survive amongst shooting, running, and general chaos.

It all comes to a somewhat happy but abrupt ending, which doesn’t feel very convincing. Still, there’s a compelling, if somewhat slow, intense, and involving story played out before that ending.

“I’m Your Woman” premieres on Amazon Prime on Dec. 11.

Ed Symkus can be reached at esymkus@rcn.com.

“I’m Your Woman”

Written by Julia Hart and Jordan Horowitz; directed by Julia Hart

With Rachel Brosnahan, Arinzé Kene, Marsha Stephanie Blake, Frankie Faison, Bill Heck

Rated R