While it is no surprise that Just Like a Woman takes a female perspective in the storytelling, it is amazing how much the film stacks elements against the fairer sex. The victimization of the protagonists is not enough to inspire any empathy, however, especially since the screenplay has little interest in anything else. Every male character is immediately dismissible as weak or cruel, and tragedies befall the two women as if they were cursed. In truth, it is just cheap filmmaking attempting to force an emotional response without putting in the effort of character development which would have made the payoff sincere.
With a plot too similar to Thelma and Louise not to mention, but dissimilar enough to disappoint any fans using Ridley Scott’s estrogen-fueled thriller as a reference point, Just Like a Woman has little going for it in terms of story. It is ultimately a road trip movie as two women who are little more than strangers get to know each other in a common goal of escaping their bleak lives, though we must endure an insufferable amount of that existence before the film takes off. They remain victims the entire film, but the first fifteen minutes lay it on so thick that it comes off as false. These women are saints while they are constantly treated like garbage.
Marilyn (Sienna Miller) is an aspiring belly dancer with a day job that she relies on in order to support her deadbeat husband. When she loses her job and discovers her husband’s infidelity in the same afternoon, Marilyn decides to travel to an audition to train as a real belly dancer. Mona (Golshifteh Farahani) has a spineless husband who allows constant abuse to his wife by way of his mother. She says horrible things that no decent human in their right mind would ever say, and the son just allows the verbal disparaging of his wife without reaction. The best point of the film comes with a ridiculous mix-up of pills which results in this absurd character’s demise, also serving as the manipulative manner in which the screenwriters get Mona to join Marilyn on her road trip.
I expected more from French-Algerian director Rachid Bouchareb (Days of Glory, Outside the Law), whose French biopics were far more engaging and believable. This is a small film but manages to mess up even the simplest elements of human interaction, coming off as bad melodrama better suited for the Lifetime Channel.
The Blu-ray special features include a picture gallery and trailer.
Entertainment Value: 3/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 3/10
Historical Significance: 2/10
Disc Features: 1/10