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I Am Woman

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There was a point in America’s history when you couldn’t enter a supermarket or flip the radio dial without hearing Helen Reddy's titular tune. I clicked on the screening link expecting to find another biodoc, but to my delight, what I watched was neither a rock concert pawning itself off as a biopic (Bohemian Rhapsody), nor a calculable musical fantasy gassed up on simulation (Rocketman). And without the accustomed showbiz pomposity to drive it, the film roars loudest in the quiet moments rendered (surrendered?) by its captivating star, Tilda Cobham-Hervey. For her first narrative feature, director Unjoo Moon mounts a top drawer musical biography along the lines of The Buddy Holly Story or Behind the Candelabra. The performances are faultless, with Cobham-Hervey capturing Reddy’s quiet resilience in a manner that transcends mere mimicry to reveal a character for whom audiences can’t help but cheer. In the hours I spent reading up on the career of Reddy's husband and manager, Jeff Wald (Evan Peters), it became apparent that there were enough scintillating showbiz entanglements therein to warrant a biopic all his own. Moon handles Wald’s excesses — most notably a $100,000 a year cocaine habit — with taste. And damn if it isn’t vitalizing to watch lighting and stock footage mesh seamlessly. (2019) — Scott Marks

Rated R | 1 hour, 56 minutes
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