Director: Unjoo Moon
Stars: Tilda Cobham-Hervey, Danielle Macdonald, Evan Peters
First things first: this biopic of Helen Reddy was scheduled for release before her death on 29th September. Alas, this rote and lifeless retelling is not a great memorial.
It begins in 1966 where the Sydney-born singer Reddy (Cobham-Hervey) has moved to New York with her three-year-old daughter after being promised a record deal. On visiting the record company office she is told that, with the advent of the Beatles, there is no longer a demand for female singers.
Reddy is dissuaded from returning home by friend and rock journalist Lilian Roxon (Macdonald). Later she is spotted by music entrepreneur Jeff Wald (Peters) who suggests they get married and move to LA’s Laurel Canyon. Eventually, after a great deal of pressuring on Helen’s part, he secures a deal for here, and Reddy scores a hit with her version of ‘I Don’t Know How to Love Him’ from ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’. Her song ‘I Am Woman’ is adopted by the women’s movement and becomes a feminist anthem. Unfortunately Wald’s coke consumption takes its toll on their marriage.
The film occasionally serves as a less interesting companion piece to the recent ‘Mrs America’ series and features cameos via archive footage of conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly and African-American (almost) presidential candidate Shirley Chisholm.
Otherwise, this is a dull TV movie-style affair with TV movie-level production values. Cobham-Harvey is impressive but the sanitised script doesn’t give her much to get her teeth into, resulting in a picture that is unlikely to appeal to anyone outside the singer’s fanbase, Still ‘Angie Baby’ is a tune, at least.
I Am Woman is out at cinemas and available to download now.
Follow David on @DWill_Crackfilm