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I Am Woman Movie Review: Helen Reddy's Posthumous Bio-Pic Is A Must-Watch For Every Woman

Here's the review for I Am Woman starring Tilda Cobham-Hervey as Helen Reddy, Danielle Macdonald as Lilian Roxon, Evan Peters as Jeff Wald and directed by Unjoo Moon

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I Am Woman Movie Review: Helen Reddy's Posthumous Bio-Pic Is A Must-Watch For Every Woman

Let me  confess to a bias. I love Helen Reddy’s songs, not just the anthemic ‘I Am Woman’ but  all her hits that I grew up humming along with that enchantingly rasping  voice. To my generation, Helen Reddy is THE WOMAN. I grew up in a foreign country adoring her spirited music and her wholesome housewifely persona. Yes, I loved Helen Reddy. Her quiet death, last month, closed a valuable chapter in my life.

I waited for her  biopic and I am happy to say it lives up to all expectations. Helen Reddy epitomized  the  woman’s voice in the rock n roll movement at a time when women were welcomed into the Billboards chart only if they wore leather jackets and spiked boots.

Helen Reddy arrived in New York from Australia with  just her little daughter and big dreams. This is the story of her rise to supreme fame, her iconic position in the world of pop music after she sang her way into the halls of fame and feminism with the  anthemic, ‘I Am Woman’.

Happily this film is much more than a  pretext to play that evergreen song on the screen. It is a mirror of the prejudices women in the 1970s and 80s handled in the male-dominated music industry of America. When Helen Reddy(played superbly by Tilda Cobham-Hervey) lands at a music producer’s office, the casual sexist attitude is put forward with an exasperating exactitude.

When she tells him she is divorced, the dickhead drawls, ‘What happened, Honey. He forgot your birthday?’

But this is not film flashing badges of  seething sisterhood.

Rather than torpedo the narrative with marching tropes, I Am  Woman focuses on the woman’s struggle to make her voice heard, in more ways than one. As Helen’s guide manager  and partner Jeff Wald, who eventually betrays her trust, actor Evan Peters reminded me of Dev Anand in Vijay Anand’s Guide. Yes, he uses her. But then, so does she.

Besides Helen Reddy, played with a looming luminescence by Tilda Cobham-Hervey,  there are only two  other principal characters  in  the  film, the third being her friend  journalist  Lilian  Roxan(Danielle Macdonald) whom Helen betrays out of a misplaced feeling of professional distrust.

For those who grew up with the voice of Helen Reddy, I Am Woman is more than a well-made biopic. Its all-encompassing  humanism and the applause –worthy rendering of Reddy’s popular songs had me clapping and singing. Even as a biopic about a woman who  claws her way out of perennial patriarchal prejudices, I  Am Woman –to borrow a phrase  from the song—is strong, invincible. I will go with 3.5 stars. 

Image source: IMDB
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