Thursday, May 10, 2018

In short: Women Who Kill (2017)

Morgan (director/writer Ingrid Jungermann) and her ex-girlfriend Jean (Ann Carr) may not have worked out as a couple, what with Morgan’s closed-off emotional life and Jean’s tendency to put everything out in the open, but they are working very well together with the podcast about female serial killers – “Women Who Kill” - they are continuing to make. They aren’t just talking about the serial killers, they are actually visiting the women in prison to interview them.

Things could go on this way forever, but when Morgan meets the mysterious Simone (Sheila Vand) at her local co-op (full disclosure: as a German living in a small town, I had to look up what the hell that is about) and falls for her instantly. Quickly, the two become a couple, Simone’s general air of mystery enabling Morgan for once in a relationship to relax. For a time, that is, for there might be something too mysterious going on with Simone. What’s a gal making a podcast about female serial killers with a bunch of rather enabling friends to think?

If you’re like me, you probably think that a lesbian comedy about podcasts and serial murder sounds rather too twee or too produced for the hipster set. However, Ingrid Jungermann’s film isn’t any of that, and it’s too good a film for me to care what hipsters are thinking about it one way or the other. This is a clever, compassionate but never cowardly film about commitment phobia (why doesn’t English have a decent compound noun for this?), loneliness, and love that is as funny as it is sad, grounding its more outrageous moments (don’t worry, there’s no splatstick in this one) in surroundings built at least in emotional veracity, and never looks down on its characters.

It is the sort of comedy that has to be funny because otherwise, it would be a tearjerker of the highest degree. Instead of allowing its audience to wallow in misery, its humour actually helps us to look closer at the reasons for that prospective wallowing. The film also teaches the valuable lesson that taking relationship advice from a serial killer just might not be the best idea. Irony aside, the ending does pack quite an emotional wallop, one the film has worked hard to achieve and that resonates with quite a bit of metaphorical and thematic work it had introduced before without becoming loud about it.

The cast as a whole is rather on the brilliant side, with Jungermann finding great foils in Sagher and Carr and vice versa. After A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, Vand is apparently now typecast as the Mysterious One, but she’s really rather good at it. Plus, Simone may be mysterious but feels like a very different character from the Girl.

I suspect in two decades time, this will not only be a great, intelligent little comedy about not so little things, but also a time capsule. Which mostly seems to happen to films that come about their naturalistic elements from a side angle, and not so much those where realism is the only reason for their existence. This is only an aside, though, for Women Who Kill is a brilliant independent film all around.

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