DMovies - Your platform for thought-provoking cinema

When We Speak

Director - Tas Brooker - 2022

"Greasy movie"
The costs of exposing the wrongs of the powerful are examined in this ambitious British documentary - from the 30th Raindance Film Festival

Behind every leak, scandal, or negligence you may have read in the media is a whistle-blower. Normally someone on the inside that sees something being obscured from the public, and sees it as their duty to expose. Historically, the public haven’t always been kind to those that reveal an ugly truth, and this piece talks to three whistle-blowers at the centre of some of the biggest stories of the 21st Century. We hear the stories of former British intelligence employee Katharine Gun, who exposed mistruths surrounding the invasion of Iraq; former aid worker Helen Evans, who put a focus on Oxfam’s lack of action over sexual extortion in their ranks; and Hollywood actress Rose McGowan, one of the key figures of the Harvey Weinstein allegations that put the #MeToo movement in the spotlight.

Three women speak truth to power in a film that takes on far too much at once. The Weinstein Scandal alone was enough to fill a whole film, and so when three pivotal journeys are crammed into just 77 minutes, it feels like bullet points rather than a deep dive. Everything the film is saying it true – the ‘what’ is powerful, but the ‘why’ is only brushed over. Attempting to chronicle the events, the abuse, their feelings, gender discrepancy, and the aftermath should have been a subject for a short series. Scattershot editing and, one suspects, differing level of access also give the piece a sense of piecing together a hundred different themes at once.

When focused, the film has some interesting points about how we view whistle-blowers. Evans talks of abuse from former colleagues who felt she had sullied their work, while interestingly Gun describes her frustration at the government not contesting her claims, and simply sweeping her case under the carpet. We also see where they are now, having all physically moved to find peace. Few documentaries analyse what happens when the furore stops, and the whistle-blowers are left to process their ordeal. Can there ever be victory when you shine a light on wrongdoing? McGowan recalls being described as “lying down on barbed wire so the rest of us can walk”. While her testimony is brief in comparison to the other women involved, lines like that capture the mood.

When We Speak has aspirations that seem too complex for the running time. However, given the effects of all these scandals continue to be felt, it is a conversation it is right to continue.

When We Speak premieres at the 30th Raindance Film Festival.

"Greasy movie"

By Victoria Luxford - 21-10-2022

By Victoria Luxford - 21-10-2022

London-born Victoria Luxford has been a film critic and broadcaster since 2007, writing about cinema all over the world. Beginning with regional magazines and entertainment websites, she soon built up...

DMovies Poll

Are the Oscars dirty enough for DMovies?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Most Read

Forget Friday the 13th, Paranormal Activity and the [Read More...]
Just a few years back, finding a film [Read More...]
A lot of British people would rather forget [Read More...]
Another year has gone by, and DMovies is [Read More...]
A small family of four lives in a [Read More...]
Pigs might fly. And so Brexit might happen. [Read More...]

Read More

Meet the women at the helm of Raindance!


Victor Fraga - 20-10-2022

Now on its 30th edition, Raindance promotes two women, Martyna Szmytkowska and Malaika Bova, to Artistic Director level, ensuring an all-female trio at the head of programming; we asked them what we should expect from the event this year and also in the next three decades! [Read More...]

Reclaiming Vincente Minnelli’s overlooked gem


Isy Santini - 25-03-2023

Not quite what it seems: Isy Santini takes a dirty look at Vincente Minnelli's Brigadoon and argues that the film - which most thought to be a musical - was in reality a horror piece! [Read More...]


Hassan Nazer

Victoria Luxford - 21-10-2022

This charming comedy from Iran celebrates childhood, community, and movies - from the 30th edition of the Raindance Film Festival [Read More...]

Facebook Comment

Website Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *