Freeze Frame: “Women Talking” (PG-13), “The Son” (PG-13), “Alice, Darling” (R)

“Women Talking” is an award-winning film adapted from a 2018 novel by Miriam Toews. It’s loosely based on the true story of a group of Mennonite women who gather to discuss what to do when they become the victims of sexual attacks by the men of their colony. The solid acting ensemble includes Rooney Mara, Claire Foy, Jessie Buckley, Judith Ivy and Frances McDormand. While the action in the film at times resembles a filmed stage play, a smart and thoughtful screenplay from filmmaker Sarah Polley gives “Women Talking” a real sense of urgency.

Hugh Jackman tries to step up and be a good dad as his needy son battles mental illness in the overwrought drama, “The Son.” It’s the follow-up to filmmaker Florian Zeller’s acclaimed debut, “The Father.” Sadly, Zeller is the victim of the sophomore jinx.  The only scene that works in this histrionic movie is a confrontation between Jackman’s character and his own estranged father, played with intimidating malice by Sir Anthony Hopkins. Despite fine acting by Jackman, Hopkins, Laura Dern, and Vanessa Kirby, “The Son” is a manipulative and affected melodrama that never rings true.

Anna Kendrick plays a woman contending with a psychologically abusive boyfriend in the quietly unsettling drama, “Alice, Darling.” Things come to a head when Alice lies to her boyfriend and goes off on a vacation with two close girlfriends, played by Tiio Horn and Wunmi Mosaku. Kendrick’s subtle performance underscores the damage her character endures as she struggles with self-blame and self-doubt. “Alice, Darling” is a deliberately paced drama that tackles this difficult topic in an understated manner.

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