Breanna Lucci says She Will is an artfully crafted story about patriarchal abuse and female empowerment.
Charlotte Colbert should be proud of her feature-length directorial debut, She Will. The gothic drama takes place in a dense forest and allows nature to tell a story about women and revenge. The film showcases the talented and dynamic Alice Kirge and Kota Eberhardt while diving into societal complexities through an artful and indignant lens. The film also stars Rupert Everett and Malcolm McDowell.
Veronica Ghent (Krige), an aging child star, has recently undergone an invasive double mastectomy. To recover, she and her nurse Desi (Eberhardt) venture into the wilderness for a healing retreat. As the land’s secrets reveal themselves, so does Veronica’s troubled past. Her life on set as a child may not have been as glamorous as it appears. Desi and Veronica find themselves deeply intertwined as they struggle with the threatening presence of men, both past and present.
Without a doubt, Dario Argento’s production, Jamie Ramsay’s cinematography, and Clint Mansell’s haunting score culminate in a brilliant viewing experience. They deliver long, suspenseful shots of trees, mud, and leaves enforced by unsettling sounds, effectively communicating the disturbing history of centuries-old witch burnings that linger on the land. They showcase Veronica’s development through similar techniques, with close-up shots into her face where her stern exterior is apparent before panning outward to show her frail and aging body. Everything this production team does is intentional, giving She Will an artistic edge that rivals other films in the genre.
Krige and Eberhardt deliver similarly impressive performances. Krige is both haunting and captivating as she portrays Veronica, giving sharp glimpses into how Veronica experiences the world. Her long ginger hair becomes a personified version of her growth. As the knots loosen on her head, so do Veronica’s hard-kept traumas. Krige finds ways to express deep, complicated feelings through body language and facial expressions, not needing the script or dialogue to convey Veronica’s emotions. Her performance and presentation are magnetic.
Eberhardt plays off Krige beautifully. Desi is much younger than Veronica, and it is interesting to watch the two interact. At first, Desi quietly assumes the caretaker position with some silent displays of annoyance at Veronica’s cold and calculated exterior. Still, as the film progresses, Eberhardt gives Desi dimension. While she never abandons the caretaker role, she does find cracks in Veronica’s demeanor that draw the duo together. These vital moments are found not in the spoken word but in Desi’s quiet reactions to Veronica. If not looking closely, you may not even notice them. This understated yet powerful performance gives Desi a sturdy footing in the film’s reality.
Every notable thing above should not negate the force of Kitty Percy and Colbert’s writing. The script is emphatic, delivering gut-wrenching truths about our society without explicitly stating them. As the audience, we are forced to dance with Veronica as she inches toward her painful truth. I do wish, however, that Desi had a more developed backstory. While she gets moments in the spotlight, they are not nearly as focused as Veronica’s. Her character arch is strongly built but left me feeling deflated as I realized she would not get Veronica’s level of attention in the end.
Between witches burned at the stake and a young, bruised Veronica, She Will exposes society’s abuse of women. While not necessarily gory, it forces us to jump to our own conclusions about the how, the what, and the why of it all. At times it feels a bit slow-paced, but the slow-burn is purposeful, giving the entire production a moment to shine. In a world riddled with injustices to women and minority groups, films like this work to shine a light on complex and influential topics.
She Will premiered in select theaters and digital on-demand on July 15, 2022. The IFC Midnight film will launch on Shudder on October 14, 2022.