‘She Will’ (2022) Review: Charlotte Colbert Delivers An Elegant Feminist Vengeance
Charlotte Colbert’s She Will is the story about a declining movie star’s vengeance on the past trauma that she endured on movie sets. It’s a feminist revenge tale of the hardships Veronica Ghent (Alice Krige) had to endure, both physical and psychological wounds. Time can heal these wounds and find strength within the past traumas but when left unresolved, it leads to actions where one has to seek a higher power to enact revenge. In a post #MeToo world, it’s interesting to see a movie about accountability and how much the aftermath of accusations can change someone’s life. A timely feminist critique that will shame someone for using the phrase “it was a different time” without any consequences.
After Veronica’s double mastectomy surgery, she goes on a retreat in rural Scotland accompanied by her nurse Desi (Kota Eberhardt). Once they arrive at the retreat, the guests begin to fawn at Veronica’s presence and she requests a separate cottage where she can have some distance with everyone else. When Veronica goes to sleep, she finds a connection to the land and dreams of ghosts from the past. She is constantly haunted by Eric Hathbourne (Malcolm McDowell), who directed a film starring Veronica when she was 13-years-old, and her trip is coincided by his upcoming knighthood. Kota, a young bleach-blonde hair nurse, tries to make things easier for Veronica but knows that there is something else that is bothering her. As the days go by, her dreams turn into nightmares and it begins to awaken something within her, as it unleashes hell on Eric.
She Will mirrors a world where a lot of older women in Hollywood aren’t able to find the right roles because of their age. The decline of femininity and ageism are two problems that women are bound to when they reach a certain age. During Veronica’s time on screen, she was celebrated for her beauty and youthfulness, but as she got older and went through a difficult surgery, she found it difficult to come to terms with the true meaning of femininity. The film also compares how time and age can be different for men like Eric, who have fame and praise as they age. While women are not cast in movies due to their withering physicality, abusive and exploitative men are celebrated and receive awards for their work. What awakens Victoria is not just her emotional state, it’s her vulnerability and drive to seek revenge on Eric and what he did to her in the past. Her strength and resilience lies in her vulnerability, and it is never seen or portrayed as a weakness.
It’s interesting how the movie explores the feminist critique of the #MeToo Movement and cancel culture, which the latter is written within the narrative as a “witch hunt.” In the movie, it repeatedly talks about witch burning from centuries ago, which led to charcoal-like substances in the ground. The folkloric and ghostly memories shift inside Veronica and give her the supernatural powers to defeat evil. She Will reclaims these terms and mythology of witchcraft for the women who are traumatised by predatory men. Within the narrative, it shows how men complain about ‘cancel culture’ and their innocence in sexual harassment and abuse, but this movie doesn’t allow men to take control of the narrative. It’s not portrayed as a competition but an incredibly empowering and satisfying vision to finally see Veronica deliver her feminist vengeance.
She Will is an elegant debut from Colbert, who manifests different gothic horror elements within the narrative and cinematography. The dream-like hauntings, oozing mud, and teleportation darken the Scottish landscapes, providing an eerie image of Veronica’s dreams and hallucinations. Colbert explores interesting narratives and themes and casts a binding spell throughout the movie. The atmospheric visuals and takes on witchcraft using creative and intergenerational moments of female solidarity.
Edited by: Raayaa Imthiyaz