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A new film that asks “is it better to stay or walk away?”

by Stewart Cole

Women talking is that rare film that overflows with ideas — about faith, freedom, education, power, fear and love. It is from another era and yet very current. Written and directed by the excellent Sarah Polley (Away From Her), adapted from the book by Miriam Toews, the film is wonderfully claustrophobic in both the world it presents and the way it presents it.

The story is about an isolated religious community where the women, who do not know how to read or write, have decided that they will no longer be victims of the men of the sect. And so, for the first time, they try democracy. Are they voting: Leave, stay and fight, or do nothing? When the outcome is too close to call, a handful of them gather in a haystack to discuss the pros and cons. They talk. And speak up. And it’s riveting.

In the manner of the 1957 classic 12 Angry Men put a variety of opposing viewpoints in the cauldron of a jury room and let them cook, what could be called “A Colony of Angry Women” does the same in the hayloft, and let’s have the strong performances of Rooney Mara, Claire Foy, Jessie Buckley, Judith Ivey, Sheila McCarthy and a trio of young actors raise the various arguments of the dialogue — should they stay or should they go.

Women talking he asks if it is braver to stay and fight or to run away? Is it better to follow one’s faith as it is written or to follow it as interpreted by those who want control?

These women, no matter how bad their lives have become, never question their faith. They never question the value of being welcomed into the kingdom of heaven — only the best way to get there. (Rated PG-13. Premiere Friday, January 6 in cinemas.)

Tom Hanks plays Otto, a suicidal clown, reeling from the death of his wife, who has been given a reason to live by his new neighbors. And a cat. A remake of the 2015 Oscar-nominated Swedish film, A man named Ove. Directed by Marc Foster (Finding his never country, The Kite Runner). (Rated PG-13. Premieres Friday, January 6, in theaters.)

A woman specializing in robotics makes a living doll/companion for her niece after the girl has lost her parents. Soon the doll’s AI becomes a little too smart – and maybe a little overprotective. Alison Williams (Girls) stars. Story by James Wan (Saw). (Rated PG-13. Premiere Friday, January 6 in cinemas.)

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