Roving Woman – ★★★ 1/2 (Raindance 2022)

Roving Woman – ★★★ 1/2 (Raindance 2022)

What could spiral into a chaotic film, Roving Woman actually ends up becoming an insightful meditative piece. A breakup road trip movie that, at times, wanders rather aimlessly but, like its lead character, finds its way in the end.

A breakup leaves Sara reeling and directionless, standing alone on her ex’s doorstep in a ballgown. Following her impulses, she starts to drive through the desert and makes unexpected connections along the way.

Sara is truly and utterly directionless. Her life is thrown into disarray, and she makes some maddeningly thoughtless decisions as she ventures off on a journey of self-discovery. Her actions throughout Roving Woman are certainly alarming. She does all of these actions on an emotional whim, fearing no consequences, and while that can be interesting, at times, it becomes a concern.

Roving Woman feels like a film that ignores simple reasoning in place of an interesting story. Why doesn’t Sara hold out for the night and return to the house to get her belongings, money and phone? You have to query Sara’s mental state, even more, compounded that Roving Woman is dedicated to Connie Converse. A musician who packed up her belongings and disappeared was never heard from again. Converse’s journey most likely had a grim ending. Is Sara likely to follow the same fate? Sara wants to rid herself of her past, but surely someone cares enough to have welcomed her before this “adventure”?

By leaving that all to the side, out of view from the audience, we are left to guess who she is as a person and why the argument caused her partner Ted to leave her with nothing but her dress and shoes so callously. In that regard, Roving Woman allows itself to be an open slate of a film. We can place ourselves into Sara’s position and wonder how we would cope in the situations she finds herself in. Do we fight to get things back to a sense of normality? Or do we use it as an excuse to find something, anything else to cling to?

For the audience, we are left to sit and watch a woman go through a myriad of emotions as Sara quietly works through her broken relationship and the grief of the life she once had, and somehow, we are compelled. However, she isn’t the piece’s hero; her actions and continual lying prove that. Instead, she has made a choice which she rightly or wrongly is sticking to.

Lena Góra does wonders here in a film she co-wrote; despite our dismay at Sara’s potential mental state, we are all in on her sad adventure. We want to see her make some form of discovery, to come out of this a stronger woman. She owns the film, with barely a frame going by without her filling it in some form. Luckily, she is a force of talent and easily lifts the film upon her back. A film that, for the vast majority of its runtime, is simply a character in a car happening upon random situations is a bold choice, but with her leading us along, it works.

As Sara drives off in her stolen car, she encounters an ever-increasingly lonely and scared America. No one seems to trust one another or think they must provide a precursor to their intent. Roving Woman is a film that you will either love or hate; there is little to no chance of it being a fence-sitting film. You will either enjoy the lead character and the narrative’s purposeful aimlessness, or you will be soundly frustrated by it. I can see reasons for both, but in the end, I fell into liking it. Góra gives a performance of someone renewed in the search for something to matter to her that you can’t help but want to see if she can.

★★★ 1/2

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