Pollyanna McIntosh with "The Woman" writer/director Lucky Mckee. Photo by Chelsea Boothe
Sundance Film Festival
Director: Lucky McKee
When a director stands before an audience and warns them of the forthcoming controversial material and recollects about previous screenings’ walkouts, you know you’re in for a memorable experience one way or another. To their wealthy neighbors and friends, the Cleek family appears to be the stereotypical American family, but the sinister truth behind their lifestyles would make even the toughest a tad squeamish. When husband/father Chris (Sean Bridgers) discovers a primitive woman (Pollyanna McIntosh) living amongst the wilderness on a hunting trip, a traps the female and locks her up in his cellar in order to domesticate her into a civilized human being. Assigning other family members chores as though they were caring for a pet, the treatment of the woman shifts from compassionate to vicious and sexual rather quickly. McKee tests the limits of viewers’ tolerance with aggressive domestic abuse against women and the appalling effect it has when being passed along from father to son. What starts off as a semi-believable yet disturbing expansion of “The Jungle Book” explodes into an over-the-top virtually laughable gore fest that essentially loses all of its effectiveness. The main disruption comes from a deafening soundtrack that devalues the film’s grim tone and distracts from the actions on the screen.