We start in 1966 when Helen (Tilda Cobham-Hervey) arrives in New York with her daughter and US$230, after being told she’d won a recording contract. She turns up for her meeting with the oleaginous studio exec, only to be patronised by him and told that she had won no such thing. While not explicitly stated, you can guess that she’s being lied to because A, she’s a woman, and B, all the record companies just want Beatles clones.
From then on we can see Helen developing as a singer and a woman. As always, an accurate biopic is a matter of public record so spoilers aren’t really an issue. For instance, if I say the title is taken from a song that Ms Reddy wrote then you’d, quite rightly, assume that I’ve been imbibing spirituous liquors to excess for me to think I was saying something new.
In the main it is well done. Tilda Cobham-Hervey does a good job as Helen Reddy. She lip-syncs very well to the point where I had to check if she had sung them herself.
So who did sing these songs?
You’d assume a music biopic would have no problem finding the original recordings to be mimed to. For reasons unknown to me, this is not the case. There are twelve songs in the film purported to be performed by Ms Reddy, but only three of them actually are. The others are all performed by Chelsea Cullen. To my untutored ear, they all sounded as though they were original performances and it was only by reading the performance credits at the end that I realised that they may well have been recorded especially for the film.
One thing that I Am Woman does less well is continuity. Now it’s obvious that you can’t get all fifty years of a person’s life into two hours, but there were some unexplained jumps. In one scene Helen is a struggling singer, in the next she has a Vegas residency, next she’s bankrupt, then retired… I just feel there could have been something linking them a bit better. Maybe there’s another film in the making?
One film that would be worth looking at is a biopic of Lilian Roxon (Danielle Macdonald). Lilian was another expat Aussie who was working as a music journalist in New York, and went on to write the world’s first rock encyclopaedia. She was a character I’d like to see more of. I don’t know if that’s down to Danielle Macdonald’s performance or the way she was presented. Whichever… anyone who could be so famously vicious to her former friend Linda Eastman (after she became Linda McCartney), be on David Bowie’s flowers list, a good friend of Germain Greer, and rubbed shoulders with Andy Warhol, Jim Morrison, and Lou Reed deserves their own biopic!
All in all, I Am Woman is a pleasant couple of hours entertainment.
About The Peetimes: This movie has a lot of drama, but I was able to pick out 3 pretty good Peetimes. I would recommend the 2nd one. It’s plenty long and right in the middle of the movie.
There are no extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of I Am Woman. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)
Genres: Biography, Drama, Music
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