I Am Woman

Or: Reddy or not, here I come!

Her Voice Inspired a Generation.

Film: I Am Woman (2019)
Director: Unjoo Moon
Cast: Tilda Cobham-Hervey, Evan Peters, Danielle Macdonald


The story of 1970s musician and activist Helen Reddy.

It’s 1966, and Helen and her three-year-old daughter have just arrived in NYC from Australia. With a suitcase full of belongings and a pocket full of dreams, wannabe singer Helen takes gigs at night to make ends meet but it’s tough going. She befriends writer Lilian Roxon and things seem a little easier to handle, though she does consider returning Down Under. Lilian persuades her to stay, citing the influence her decision will have on her daughter when she’s old enough to understand what her mother sacrificed to follow her dreams.

At a party she meets Jeff, who promises her the world and they soon relocate to LA, which he assures her is the place to be. But of course, pretty words are one thing – action quite another. When he fails to focus the attention he’s promised on his new wife’s career, Helen is forced to put her foot down – and it eventually pays off. She becomes a major recording star and actress – and life is wonderful. Isn’t it?

Well, equality for all still isn’t forthcoming, she misses Lilian, who’s all up in the women’s march and doing very well with her writing. She’s jealous of Lil’s new friendship – and sick of Jeff’s coke shit. Not to mention the fact she gets almost no say in her own career. When her husband starts putting shit in her head about the lengths Lilian would go for a good journalistic story – after slagging off one of her friends in an article – the women have a massive fight with tragic consequences. Where will Helen go from here?

Full disclosure. I saw the trailer for this and I thought “Ew, no thank you” which is a very strong reaction to have about a film that by rights I should be all over. Then I accidentally watched Sex and the City 2 (2010) and realised… it’s the fucking song, isn’t it? I’m just not into the damn song.

But listening to Carrie et all slaughter the living shit out of it in Abu Dhabi took a slight dislike to the next level. Which isn’t fair on Helen or the part she played in the woman’s rights movement – or what the lyrics of what is now considered a feminist anthem mean to millions of women the world over.

This is a very interesting true life story so I’m thankful I have a new insight into the woman behind it. But coming in at just under two hours with a lot of focus on Helen’s rise to fame – and subsequent marriage – it wasn’t that entertaining. I would have liked more of a nose at her life post-Jeff – more with her and Lilian, and more about her activism, which I’m still a little hazy on.

While Helen is clearly a strong woman with drive and ambition, the focus on her fractious marriage plays that down – and yeah, I guess that’s the point. Here’s a woman inspiring women on an international level – and yet she doesn’t even have access to her own finances. Fucking men. Fucking Jeff.

I did have a little cry at the end though, when she gets up and sings her heart out at the rally. I’d have to be a brute not to be touched by that.

Rating: 2.5 feminist fist pumps out of 5

What does my superstar think about I Am Woman? Would she consider it her favourite anthem or put on the Spice Girls instead? You know what to do.

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