"Raw Character Study"
What You Need To Know:
AMERICAN WOMAN is a very raw, realistic look into the lives of the characters of the lower class in a small Pennsylvania town. It tells a relatable story involving people who have experienced a huge loss, but hold onto hope and family for strength. Although the movie is absorbing and well-acted, the worldview is quite negative, and there is an excessive amount of immoral content and foul language. Deb eventually rejects her Christian sister’s sound advice. AMERICAN WOMAN also contains some strong violence, lewd content, alcohol abuse, and dysfunctional family behavior that also mute the movie’s positive content. As a result, MOVIEGUIDE® found AMERICAN WOMAN ultimately to be excessive and unacceptable.
AMERICAN WOMAN takes place in a small town in Pennsylvania, where a woman named Deb lives with her daughter and baby grandson, Jesse. One morning, she wakes up to find that her daughter hasn’t returned home, and she is left to babysit unexpectedly. Irritated at this interruption in her day, she furiously drives around town looking in all the places her daughter would be. Jesse’s father tells her they got into a fight the night before, but that she went to a friend’s house, and he didn’t see her again. The friend tells the same story, except that she decided to walk home that night so that Deb wouldn’t be stuck watching the baby.
Terrified after a few days of not seeing her daughter, Deb reports everything to the police, blaming her daughter’s boyfriend for her disappearance. She turns to the man she’s been seeing for comfort, but as he is married to another woman, his ability to be there for her is quite limited. Furious at his negligence, she drunkenly drives to his house, breaks in and begins to cook a meal in the kitchen. After his wife kicks her out, telling her that she’s not the first affair, Deb drives toward home, still heavily intoxicated. While on the road, the heightened depression overcomes her, and she lets go of the wheel, crashing into the trees nearby.
A few years later, Jesse is a young boy, and Deb is now dating a new man. He’s a macho type, commanding breakfast from her as soon as he’s awake and asserting his unwanted authority over Jesse. However, Deb needs his financial help, and so she is willing to put up with him in order to help ease her own burden. Although the verbal abuse eventually turns into physical, and before she knows it, he’s violently shoving scrambled eggs in her face, and beating her to the ground. Jesse runs across the street to Deb’s sister’s house for help, and she and her husband immediately throw him out.
By this point, Deb is almost completely exhausted with men and relationships, and puts her energy into work and going to school. Her sister, however, thinks she may have found someone for her and asks to set her up. Reluctantly, Deb goes, but is totally sour to her blind date, making it very awkward for her sister and her husband. A few days later, that same date finds out where she works and intentionally sits in her section at the bar. He is relentless, and just eight weeks later, they are tying the knot. He is a good man, kind to Jesse and a favorite with her whole family.
Fast forward years later, Jesse is a full on teenager, Deb has a great new job that she earned with her degree, and she’s been married now for years. She seems to have finally figured it out, when she happens to see a cigarette in the trash with a woman’s lipstick on it right after she went out of town. All the things that have happened in her life have brought her an enormous amount of strength. Deb learns so much about herself, and what she is really capable of accomplishing.
AMERICAN WOMAN is a “slice of life” type of movie, showcasing the events of a woman’s life, as she goes through a lot of love, loss and acceptance. This movie is a very raw story, without anything sugar coated or unrealistic. The arc for Deb throughout is subtle, but huge at the same time, showing the great shift in her character as the story progresses. The cast does a great job, with very natural and believable performances.
However, AMERICAN WOMAN has a primarily negative worldview and contains a high amount of immoral content. It has an abundant amount of foul language and crude dialogue, combined with strong sexual immorality and alcohol abuse.
That said, the character of Deb’s sister seems to be the good role model. She goes to church, has a solid marriage and always seems to be the voice of reason, but Deb eventually goes her own way. As a result, MOVIEGUIDE® found AMERICAN WOMAN ultimately to be excessive and unacceptable.