It’s supremely gratifying to look upon a piece of literary adaptation news and think to yourself: perfect.
Such was the warm, all-is-right-with-the-world-feeling I felt earlier this morning after reading the announcement that Sarah Polley will direct Frances McDormand in an adaptation of Miriam Toews’ 2019 novel Women Talking (to my mind one of the finest novels of the past decade).
Women Talking is the story of eight women in an isolated Mennonite colony—where for two years the men have been drugging and sexually assaulting the women at night and blaming it on demons—who come together in a barn loft to discuss their faith, their anger, and what action can and should be taken against their abusers. It’s an harrowing, polyphonic work of quiet rage and emotional and intellectual nuance, and if it is to be turned into a movie, it deserves a creative team that won’t fuck it up.
Sarah Polley is the master of complex, female-led, quietly devastating Canadian literary adaptations, having successfully shepherded both Margaret Atwood’s Alias Grace and Alice Munro’s “The Bear Went Over the Mountain” to the screen.
Frances McDormand is Frances McDormand, and can pretty much do it all, but I particularly enjoy her ability to mask deep grief with acerbic fury, as she did so beautifully in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri (I know, I know…).
Anyway, who knows when or if we’ll actually get to see this project come to fruition, but if I were Miriam Toews, I would be pretty damn pleased right now.