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TIFF 2023 Review: Woman of the Hour – “Kendrick is willing to go to uncomfortable places”

In the category of life being stranger than fiction, a serial killer becomes a contestant on a television dating show.

Struggling to make a living as an actress in Hollywood, Sheryl (Anna Kendrick) agrees to be a bachelorette on The Dating Game so to raise her profile. Intercut are flashbacks showing a man pretending to be a photographer seeking out potential models and subsequently raping and killing them.  The two narratives collide when the serial killer in question becomes one of the three contestants to be selected by Sheryl to be her date.

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Not sure if this completely works as there are two completely different tones going on.   The Zodiac serial killer storyline and the satirical Confessions of a Dangerous Mind plot about dating shows.  Perhaps I was not paying enough attention to the title cards revealing the year for each killing but because each had the same warm colour palette, I assumed that meant that all of them happened before the dating show when in fact that was not the case.   Something that is consistent and effective is the male chauvinism that reeks like sweaty socks and is so offhandedly cringe-worthy that one cannot but cheer when Sheryl decides to do some rewriting of her own.

It is no easy task to direct yourself for your feature directorial job and Anna Kendrick makes the most of the opportunity though her lack of experience in the edit suite shows through as the story could be tighter.  As to whether Kendrick will be able to achieve the stature of Clint Eastwood or become a one-hit wonder that will become clearer when she gets the chance at a sophomore effort.  What is clear is that Kendrick is willing to go to uncomfortable places and make social statements that expose the dark underbelly in a way that is distinctly her own.

The 48th Toronto International Film Festival runs September 7-17, 2023, and for more information visit    

Trevor Hogg is a freelance video editor and writer who currently resides in Canada; he can be found at LinkedIn.

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