If you tuned into this week’s edition of After Image, then you’ve already heard my disappointment with Ammonite—the new romantic drama from British filmmaker Francis Lee. I have many issues with the movie, but one of the main sticking points came with how women behave and talk in the absence of men.
As coincidence would have it, I watched the short film Joyce at 34 (1974) the same weekend I saw Ammonite. What was missing from the latter, I found in the former. One scene, in particular, stood out: A dozen women sitting around a table talking about what life is like for them. Here, the absence of men is felt in the energy, excitement, and freedom. It’s delightful.
Directed by Claudia Weill and Joyce Chopra, Joyce at 34 is available to stream on The Criterion Collection, and Chopra’s debut feature, Smooth Talk, is currently touring virtual theaters. Even better, Smooth Talk is slated for a February 2021 Blu-ray/DVD release from Criterion—just another reason to get excited for the turn of the calendar.