Coming from director Unjoo Moon, Transmission Films, Quiver Distribution and Official Selection of the 2019 Toronto International Fil Festival comes the story of a woman who could have never believed she would become an icon believing that I AM WOMAN.
Helen Reddy (Tilda Cobham-Hervey) is a young, single mother getting off a plane from Australia believing she has a record contract. Immediately Helen discovers that what she had been told was not quite true. Getting a job at a local dive to pay for food and a low rent room, she debates whether it is time to go home.
With another option, Helen finds her cousin Lilian (Danielle Macdonald) for help navigating the new big city. Lilian is a writer and knows that Helen has the talent but it is going to take breaking through barriers. A few months later she meets Jeff Wald (Evan Peters) who believes in her talent and makes grand promises for their future.
Moving to Los Angeles, Jeff makes his way into the music industry helping other acts find places to play and get attention. The one person he seems to have forgotten to help is his wife Helen. Becoming a disgruntled housewife, Helen knows the only way she is going to get her chance is if she creates it and throws down with Jeff.
Finally, Jeff gets a record deal for Helen and she is off like a rocket with fame and performing. Helen has what she has always dreamed of – an audience. Fame has its downside and Jeff is the wax on the slide headed that way. While she is working, Jeff is becoming the stereotypical manager.
Knowing that once again she must do whatever it takes, Helen knows it is time to save her career and have the life where she relies on no one else. Little did she know the impact one song would have on women and the cause of equality!
Cobham-Hervey as Helen starts out as a very naïve and inward songstress never stepping out of place. Knowing there is something more in her life, she just does not know how to break past all the nay-sayers to show what she can do. Cobham-Hervey slides into the role with ease and makes believing we are looking at Helen Reddy easy.
Peters as Wald is a husband who is infatuated with a songstress wife and the potential that could mean. Once he gets what he wants, it is easy to forget who is responsible for that. Even worse, he becomes the stereotypical music manager doing everything in excess – including the treatment of his own wife. Peters made it look way to easy!
Macdonald as Lilian believed in Helen from the beginning and was her touchstone. Once Helen became larger than life, she did what Wald did – move on without her. There is a moment of hurt that needed to play out and Macdonald does it with grace.
Other cast include Matty Cardarople as Roy Meyer, Jordan Raskopoulos as George Sylvia, Gus Murray as Paul Rankine, Molly Broadstock as Traci, Rita Ahuja as Maree, Dusty Sorg as Dany and Michael Taylor as David Dinkins.
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I AM WOMAN is the story of Helen Reddy that perhaps many people do not know, certainly I did not. I grew up with her music from the 70s and 80s and it made an impression for reasons I did not understand until years later. It was a case of singing the words and not really paying attention to what they meant.
The story is the good and bad mixed in with the times of woman not being able to break through in the music industry. Finding every excuse in the book to send Helen on her way, it was persistence that finally brought her to the top. The ride was not easy and should have been once she got to the top but again, her own husband had other plans.
If you are a Reddy fan, then I AM WOMAN is a must-see. The music is there, and the costuming was a nice way to bring back memories of that time in music and of the times in general. Reddy did not realize what impact her song I Am Woman would have until she saw it for herself, what an experience that must have been.
In the end – her song inspired a revolution!