AMERICAN WOMAN (2019)

"Raw Character Study"

Quality:
Content: -3 Excessive content and/or worldview problems.
NoneLightModerateHeavy
Language
Violence
Sex
Nudity

What You Need To Know:

AMERICAN WOMAN takes place over the maturing period of a young boy’s life. Jesse’s young grandmother, Debra, has taken him into her custody after her daughter mysteriously disappeared one night when Jesse was a baby. As the years pass, Deb continues to live her life, going to school and eventually marrying, all while holding onto hope that her daughter is still alive out there somewhere. This is Deb’s story.

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.

Content:

(RoRo, PaPa, C, Ab, B, LLL, VV, SS, N, AA, DD, MMM):

Dominant Worldview and Other Worldview Content/Elements:
Strong Romantic worldview with strong pagan elements throughout plus some minor Christian elements, the main character pursues her own interests without considering morality or looking to God for guidance, the main character’s sister is the good role model, promoting a healthy marriage and positive morals, has continued to go to church and encourages her sister to do so although sister never appears to make that change, plus a negative depiction of Christianity as a woman expresses that the people at the church harshly judged her for being pregnant at age 16, and some light moral elements where hope and family are extolled, but main character ultimately relies on herself

Foul Language:
More than 130 obscenities and profanities including about 50 “f” words and nine GDs, many examples of crude words for genitalia, one use of the middle finger, many times calling rude names such as “whore” and “skank,” a young boy takes the toothbrush of a man he doesn’t like and rubs it around in the toilet, one use of “faggot”

Violence:
Moderate amount of blood and violence, a woman almost intentionally crashes her car and is shown walking down the road with blood streaming down her face, a man is physically abusive to the woman with whom he’s in a relationship and hits her multiple times once against a car window, and one instance of violently shoving scrambled eggs in her mouth/face, a man defending the woman throws the abusive boyfriend into bushes outside, woman shoves/hits the man with whom she’s having affair, and a man admits to kidnapping and murdering although it’s not shown on screen

Sex:
Strong sexual content overall includes a girl receives a sex toy as a gift for her birthday, women discuss the sizes of men’s body parts, a woman admits to having “been around” with many of the men in their town, a woman tries to grab a man’s genitals, implied fornication as two main characters have had children out of wedlock when they were young girls, a woman is having an affair with a married man, an unmarried couple are shown in bed post coital, multiple times when a man and woman are living together unmarried, lots of crude dialogue, and a few sexual jokes and innuendos

Nudity:
Upper male nudity while swimming, a woman’s dress comes up while she is being physically abused and her underwear shows, a man and woman’s topless backs are shown in bed, girl is shown in swimsuit at a lake, and a woman is shown in a bath from the shoulders up

Alcohol Use:
Alcohol use and abuse includes characters frequently have wine or beer during almost every scene, a few examples of drunkenness including a woman drunkenly breaking into a married man’s house and then proceeds to drive drunk leading to a bad crash, dates take place at a bar where everyone is drinking alcohol, and the main character works at a bar for the majority of the movie

Smoking and/or Drug Use and Abuse:
Characters often smoke cigarettes throughout the movie, plus a young man is shown smoking marijuana from a bong; and,

Miscellaneous Immorality:
Excessive amount of miscellaneous content including multiple examples of family dysfunction, a young man is extremely disrespectful to his grandmother telling her to “shut up,” the main character goes from boyfriend to boyfriend throughout the movie even when they are occasionally verbally abusive to her grandson, a young child expresses that he doesn’t want anything to do with his real dad because he has never acted like a father before, a woman lies to the police about her daughter’s boyfriend being physically abusive, man wants woman to have an abortion, examples of moral relativism, lying and kidnapping.

More Detail:

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.

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