Picks of the Week is Women and Hollywood‘s newest resource. W&H writers are often asked for recommendations, so each week they’ll spotlight the women-driven and women-made projects—movies, series, VOD releases and more—that they’re most excited about. (Sign up for the Women and Hollywood newsletter at womenandhollywood.com to get each week’s picks delivered to your inbox!)
Feature of the Week: A Vigilante
Written and Directed by Sarah Daggar-Nickson
If you missed Olivia Wilde’s under-appreciated turn as a mother grieving the absence of her missing son in Reed Morano’s 2015 directorial debut, Meadowland, prepare to be blown away by her performance in A Vigilante, another debut feature from a female filmmaker.
Sarah Daggar-Nickson’s drama sees Wilde playing Sadie, a once-abused woman who has devoted her life to helping other domestic abuse victims. Rather than offering a shoulder to cry on or a referral to a therapist, Sadie is ending their abusers’ reign of terror. She’s not killing the perpetrators, who are both men and women—but she’s violent enough to convince them that it’s in their best interest to get out of town and cease contact with those they’ve abused. Meanwhile, she’s searching for clues on her hunt to track down, and kill, her own abusive ex.
Far from being a superhero, Sadie is a very human crusader who is still struggling with her own PTSD. When she’s not attending group therapy, training or confronting abusers, she’s often weeping and shaking uncontrollably.
A Vigilante is a promising debut from Daggar-Nickson, and a captivating portrait of a traumatized woman determined to reclaim her power. (Laura Berger)
A Vigilante hits theaters and VOD March 29.
Series of the Week: “Traitors”
Created and Written by Bash Doran
Although it’s set in Britain just after the end of WWII, the themes of “Traitors” feel extremely timely. Bash Doran’s new drama, which previously aired on the UK’s Channel 4, takes place in a world of severe political divisions, concerns about Russia’s global influence and escalating culture wars.
Sounds fairly familiar, huh?
The story centers on Feef Symonds (Emma Appleton), a posh, politically conservative spy-in-training whose dreams of adventure—and affair with a married American agent—are shot when peace is declared. But things haven’t really gone back to normal: Communism is on the rise and the Labour Party has just taken control of Parliament. It’s not long before Feef is recruited by another American, Rowe (Michael Stuhlbarg), to spy on her own government.
The fun of “Traitors” is trying to figure out each character’s true beliefs—if they have any—and predicting how those beliefs will be used against them. Feef herself is an excellent manipulator, but that doesn’t mean she’s impervious to coercion or flattery. She never would have agreed to spy if her handlers hadn’t leaned on her vanity or need for excitement.
As its title emphasizes, all of the “Traitors” characters are betraying something: their country, their ideals, their loved ones. They do a lot of terrible things for the “right” reasons. The series is painted in shades of gray and the more Feef and Co. try to maintain some semblance of morality, the more addictive “Traitors” becomes. (Rachel Montpelier)
The first season of “Traitors’” will begin streaming on Netflix March 29.