An Australian singer, with a young daughter in tow, arrives in 1996 New York to make it as a singer. The woman’s name was Helen Reddy.
Yes, Helen Reddy the legend who sang such hits as “I Don’t Know How to Love Him”, “Delta Dawn” and “Angie Baby” and the iconic “I am Woman” started her career in NYC as a singer in a bar lounge. Thus begins the story of one of music greatest superstars in the new film ‘I Am Woman.’
Yes, she was sure a woman. And Reddy, who just recently passed away in September in Los Angeles, had it rough when she moved to NYC after winning a singing competition in Australia where the prize was a ticket to NYC and a recording contract. But with a suitcase and only $230 in her pocket, and with no recording contract, she was determined, and desparate, to make it on her own.
Besides hanging out with rock journalist Lillian Roxon (Danielle Macdonald), she also meets Jeff Wald (a fantastic Evan Peters who steals the movie), a young aspiring talent manager who becomes her agent and eventually husband, and he helps her get to the top. After their move to Los Angeles, Reddy’s singing career began, and continued to hit new peaks, where she became the first Australian singer to top the U.S. charts, and even winning a Grammy award in 1973. But Wald had a cocaine habit, which eventually got worse and worse, and with Reddy not home a lot due to a Las Vegas singing residency, and with a new son to take care of, their relationship started to crumble, and eventually ended when Reddy found out Wald had made bad investments with her money.
However, ‘I am Woman’ is the story of a woman, against all adversity, who was determined to make her dream come true. Reddy not only became the most successful female recording artist of her time, but she also broke stereotypes and led the way during the most crucial period of the women’s liberation movement. And she became a role model for what all women could achieve.
It’s an incredible story, made all the more real by director Unjoo Moon, who has very little experience in the directing world, and by Tilda Cobham-Hervey, who effectively plays Reddy, but unfortunately it’s not an award-winning performance. It’s Peters performance who steals the film as her husband. But it’s also Reddy’s life and legacy that will most stick with you. What she had to do and what she accomplished, in a time when women’s rights were just a passing hope, and how perhaps her message through song and her voice really did help propel the feminist movement in helping to pass the equal rights bills across America.
IN CINEMAS AND ON DIGITAL PLATFORMS FRIDAY 9TH OCTOBER
Review by Tim Baros