The Beach House (2020) | SHUDDER
It is now more important than ever to celebrate women and their stories. I have been a proud feminist my entire life, so of course I know the famous, empowering song “I Am Woman”--but I never knew the story behind the woman who gave us this unofficial women’s anthem.
This is Unjoo Moon’s first major film credit, with a documentary and two shorts to her name as well. Moon does a nice job of piecing a storyline together and making sure to hit the major points along the way to capture the full person who was Helen Reddy. Where the direction lacked was definitively separating time in the experience of the story. It was confusing to understand how much time had passed at certain points and it lessened the understanding for what was happening at particular parts of the narrative. Despite this, I am excited to see what Moon does from here!
In the most simplest terms: this story is about Helen Reddy’s life and career. It begins with Reddy arriving in the United States from Australia as a single mother, attempting to establish her career as a singer. Reddy is experiencing sexism first hand when she is put down and turned away by executives; she even earns less money than the band members who perform with her even though she is the lead, because “they have families to feed”... Reddy, clearly a fearless woman and feminist, never backs down from calling out these absurdities. It is not until she meets her future husband, Jeff Wald, that she is finally put on the map by his connections and dedication to her unwavering commitment to make it as a singer. However, Jeff struggles with a drug problem, and a huge part of Helen’s story surrounds that. An important friendship with Lilian Roxon, who was the pioneer of rock music journalism, is highlighted in this story--a refreshing addition to the ups and downs of Helen and Jeff’s marriage. If I told you I didn’t get choked up at the end of this film, I’d be lying.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
Tilda Cobham-Hervy embodies Helen Reddy perfectly. Her performances were captivating, and she commanded attention in every scene she was in, no matter who was opposite of her. Evan Peters (American Animals) portrayed Jeff Wald with confidence and experience, and you will adore and hate him at all the right times because of how good Peters is able to channel this character. Danielle Macdonald is charming and fun as Lilian Roxon. These main characters have great on-screen chemistry that shines throughout the film.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
... A Lovely And Enjoyable Watch
This story spanned over many years with little to no indication of Reddy aging, not that it needed to be overdone. But the best indication that time had passed was the aging of her children. Otherwise, the film did a nice job of capturing the styles and fashion of the times with nothing fancy about it.
I Am Woman (2020) | IN CINEMAS / VOD
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
A musical biopic comes with a high standard for this category, and it delivers. All the performances were more than enjoyable to watch and should be celebrated for not being over the top where it didn’t need to be. I was worried this song would be overkilled by the time the credits started to roll, but instead it brought me to tears.
This was a lovely and enjoyable watch, and as the song itself is unforgettable, as a film, it does not live up to the same stature. If you are someone who is a huge fan of Helen Reddy then this might hit differently for you. Otherwise, it is a nice story about the woman who gave feminists and the women’s movement a strong anthem for the rest of time. The song will stand the test of time and will always make me emotional, even more so now.