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I Am Woman


Stars: Tilda Cobham-Hervey, Evan Peters, Danielle Macdonald, Chris Parnell, David Lyons, Matty Carradine, Dusty Sorg

Director: Unjoo Moon

A conventional musical biopic surveying 20 years in the career of Australian-born singer Helen Reddy, who died last month at 79. Newly divorced and a hit in her home country, Helen (Cobham-Hervey) arrives in New York to further her career, with her three-year-old daughter in tow.

At first unable to get a break, she meets and soon marries self-confident agent Jeff Wald (Peters). He's content for her to be a housewife, but she talks him into badgering influential music people, and eventually has her first hit with I Don't Know How to Love Him, followed by singles, albums and her own TV show.

But it's her self-penned hit I Am Woman that makes her a global superstar, giving her a first number one and propelling her to the forefront of the women's rights movement, which adopts her song as its anthem.

By this time, the volatile Jeff has progressed from marijuana to cocaine and the cracks in their marriage are rapidly widening.

Peters sometimes does chew the scenery, but it's a watchable performance occasionally reminiscent of the young Malcolm McDowell, while Cobham-Hervey is too quiet and submissive in the dramatic scenes, but comes alive on stage when, ironically, she's lyp-synching, sometimes to Reddy herself, but mostly to vocalist Chelsea Cullen, who doesn't sound too much like the real thing.

Though acceptable and rarely dull, the film never really grips the attention, and is shot in a strange colour process (credited to Technicolor LA but probably shot on Australian stock) that centres on oranges, deep turquoises and shades of brown.

David Quinlan

Australia/USA 2019. UK Distributor: Vertigo. Technicolor.
116 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 2, Swearing 2.

Review date: 08 Oct 2020