At its most basic level, The Woman asks a straightforward question: Who’s the real monster, a cannibalistic mountain woman (Pollyanna McIntosh) or Chris Cleek (Sean Bridgers), the sleazy small-town lawyer who captures and imprisons her? Even though the answer is choreographed early on, it’s how director Lucky McKee explores the idea as the picture moves forward that sells the concept.
Cleek first spots the Woman while on a hunting trip. He fixates, obsesses, and then returns home to plot the capture and set up a makeshift prison in an outdoor cellar. He returns, deftly executes his plan, and brings her back to the homestead. So far, so good. Cleek’s aim is to domesticate the savage beast, and he forces his family – made up of his wife, Belle (Angela Bettis), and their three kids – into complicity in the matter. The Cleeks are a family in peril, smothered by every move the patriarch makes. They’re a family operating in the absence of love, headed for a breaking point. Will the Woman be the final straw?
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