Screened as part of NZIFF 2019
Sienna Miller is superb as a single mother struggling to move on – and move through life – in this decade-spanning story of a missing teenage girl in working-class Pennsylvania. Focusing on both small and significant happenings in the Rust Belt, director Jake Scott lets the desperation of his characters speak through everyday drama – and provides Miller with a platform for one of the best performances of her career.
“Deb (Miller) was never shy about being the bad girl in her family. She had her daughter Bridget young, Bridget had her son Jesse young, and the three of them live a more or less happy life in their small Pennsylvania town. Then one night Bridget goes out with her old boyfriend – Jesse’s father – and never returns. Deb’s mother (Madigan) and sister (Hendricks) join the entire community in a thorough search, but to no avail. Time passes, the devastation eases little by little, and Deb moves on, raising Jesse on her own. She starts a new career and finds new love in Chris (Paul), a charismatic construction worker and musician. But just when her devastating loss seems far behind her, new truths come to light that change everything…
American Woman pulls us deep into the lives of these good, flawed, ordinary people. Miller has never given a performance quite this lived-in and emotionally layered. Her character's pain is soul-piercing, but so are her resilience and survival skills. This is a harrowing story but also a healing one.” — Jane Schoettle, Toronto International Film Festival