There is a scene in I'm Your Woman that is set in a roadside diner where the character played by Rachel Brosnahan is asked if she can make her baby laugh. Brosnahan says yes and proceeds to sing "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman," and what makes the baby laugh is when she does the "awoo" from the backup singers. It's a charming little scene, but there is a problem with it. Within the story, this moment happens an hour or two after Brosnahan's character witnesses three brutal murders and is almost executed herself. It's a jarring tonal shift, which also happens several other times throughout the movie.
Set in 1970s Pittsburgh, the film features Brosnahan as meek suburban housewife Jean. One day, her lout of a gangster husband, Eddie (Bill Heck), comes home with a baby and tells Jean it is hers now. Soon after, Eddie turns up missing, and a lot of dangerous people are looking for him. Friends of Eddie have black hitman Cal (Arinze Kene) protect Jean by taking her and the baby to a secure location.
The quiet, escalating tension works in director/co-writer Julia Hart's film, but a discotheque shootout and car chase are silly distractions. What does ground the film are the performances, particularly the Marvelous Mrs. Maisel star Brosnahan. Her character has a big arc, and the actress makes it believable.
I'm Your Woman is streaming on Amazon Prime.
** ½ Stars (Out of Four)
[Lead Image courtesy Amazon Studios]