For me, watching a Henry Jaglom film is a lot like visiting a bunch of old friends and meeting new ones along the way. Over the years, I’ve become so attached to some of the characters that inhabit Jaglom’s world that they feel near to my heart. These people are wonderful and the films are comforting. Jaglom’s passion for women’s issues has always struck a positive chord with me, as a man who dearly loves and respects the women in his life and someone who is deeply in love with cinema. Jaglom has been a strong voice for women all over the world since his debut, A Safe Place. His “women’s quartet”, which includes Eating, Babyfever, Going Shopping, and Irene in Time, are unashamedly personal and intimate portraits of what it is to be a woman in the modern world. The films are rich with compassion and grace – and the people presented here are real, not mere caricatures.
With his latest film, The M Word, Jaglom explores the subject of menopause. Like the films in the “women’s quartet”, Jaglom utilizes his trademark interview technique to represent several different women – and men – who have been affected by the change of life in some way or another. As usual, these segments are raw and unscripted. The fictional narrative that surrounds these interviews tells the story of a young actress named Moxie. Moxie works at a small television station in California as an actress on a famed children’s show. In her spare time, she is also shooting a documentary featuring her mother and her two eccentric aunts. Moxie’s mother has been going through menopause for quite some time, and Moxie has decided to turn her mother’s experience into a pilot for a reality show called “The M Word”, which will focus on women from all around the world, and what happens to them when their menstrual cycle finally comes to an end. From the interviews that we see and hear, women handle the situation in vastly different ways.
When a studio executive (Michael Imperioli) shows up to investigate some financial issues, Moxie quickly develops a relationship with him, abandoning her boyfriend (played by a hilarious Corey Feldman) and pitches her reality show to him. He agrees to greenlight the project, but Moxie soon discovers that it may come at the expense of her co-workers who she cares deeply about. Things begin to escalate quickly, as loyalties are tested and the jobs of several employees are threatened. Throughout all of this, Moxie suffers from terrible cramps as a result of her period. As you may have already guessed, it all leads to a wild and unexpected climax.
The M Word is quite simply one of Henry Jaglom’s best films since Eating. It is a funny and touching experience that holds nothing back. The honesty on display is incredibly refreshing. Tanna Frederick delivers one of her best performances here. She remains one of the bravest actresses of this generation. Her work here is pure and unrestrained, and the results are a wonder to behold. Supporting actors include some Jaglom regulars, as well as some new faces. They include Frances Fisher, Corey Feldman, Gregory Harrison, Mary Crosby, Zack Norman, Simon Jaglom, and last but not least, the one and only Michael Emil. With The M Word, Henry Jaglom proves yet again that he is one of the most exciting artists in the world of independent cinema. He continues to pour his heart and soul into every project, and that passion shines through in this film.
The M Word is one of the best films of the year.