The anguish a parent experiences when losing their own child is always a difficult subject matter to tackle on screen, but American Woman takes a very good stab at it. This sees a thirty-something single mother learning to cope through grief after her daughter disappears. She now has to look after her lost daughter’s son on her own while coursing her way through some rocky relationships. This is a well-written character drama that handles its subject matter very well and makes any human interaction and relationship feel grounded and authentic.
Everything in this film, from the family dynamics to the mundane working environments all feels real. You do feel the pain and tragedy that unfolds with the emotional thrust of the narrative creeping up on you, even when you don’t see it coming. At the centre of the drama is a stellar turn from Sienna Miller who brilliantly convinces as the reckless, store worker/mother who starts out as a chain-smoking, adulterous wild-child and by the film’s finish ends up in a completely different emotional state. This is a tough story that is rife with raw emotional beats and Miller handles it both effortlessly and beautifully.
What director Jake Scott and screenwriter Brad Ingelsby have accomplished here is something that’s quite brilliant. This is a deeply moving, powerfully-acted drama that examines human behaviour in a very mature way. Plus, it shows how Sienna Miller just keeps going from strength to strength when it comes to her acting choices. It’s questionable whether this will find an audience within the mainstream market, but if you’re interested in slow-burn character dramas that are fuelled by good scripts, then this is definitely worth checking out.
Dir: Jake Scott
Scr: Brad Ingelsby
Cast: Sienna Miller, Christina Hendricks, Aaron Paul, Will Sasso, Pat Healy, Amy Madigan
Prd: Ridley Scott, Kevin J. Walsh, Michael Pruss, Brad Feinstein
DOP: John Mathieson
Music: Adam Wiltzie
Country: UK, US
Run time: 111 mins
American Woman is now out in cinemas, digital and Blu-ray