Actress Anna Kendrick has been a working film actress from an early age, where she debuted in the cult classic musical dramedy Camp. Since then she’s starred in blockbusters and indies alike, notably getting an Academy Award nomination for her performance opposite George Clooney in Up in the Air. She recently began the next stage of her career, getting behind the camera directing the upcoming drama thriller Woman of the Hour. And Kendrick has once again hit out of the park, as her directorial debut is a triumphant masterclass in tension. I’m still biting my nails as a result.
While Woman of the Hour doesn’t have a wide theatrical release date just yet, it recently had its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival. She previously debuted her drama Alice, Darling at least year’s festival. While Anna Kendrick admitted he was “heartbroken” she couldn't be at said premiere due to the ongoing strikes, the work speaks for itself. I had a chance to catch an early screening, where I was impressed with the way she built tension in the movie and expertly crafted a non-linear narrative that pays off by the end of its brisk 94-minute runtime.
Woman of the Hour is inspired by a true story, about serial killer Rodney Alcala. Prior to his incarceration he appeared on The Dating Game, resulting in him being named “The Dating Game Killer.” The movie largely follows the taping of that show, while also chronicling some of his murders throughout the years.
In addition to directing the chilling drama, Anna Kendrick stars in Woman of the Hour as Cheryl Bradshaw, the woman deciding between three eligible bachelors on The Dating Game, including Alcala (played by Daniel Zovatto.) Cheryl is an aspiring actress hoping to get exposure by appearing on the hit show, unwittingly being paired with a serial killer in the process. As we follow her preparing and filming the show, the story is intercut with vignettes of Alcala manipulating and murdering women throughout the years.
These two stories perfectly intertwine as the movie’s tension builds, and I personally grew more and more concerned for Cheryl. Kendrick’s pacing for the movie pitch perfect (pun intended), balancing funny moments from the TV show’s filming process with grisly murders. When Cheryl and Rodney end up spending time together, background noise and music stops, allowing for chilling silence and dread to accompany their interaction. I found myself chewing on my nails and pen as anxiety grew and the movie’s ingénue was put into danger.
The non-linear storytelling ends up paying off big in the movie’s third act, which I won’t spoil for those excited to see Anna Kendrick’s directorial debut for themselves. And besides the two leading actors, Woman of the Hour also features great performances by Tony Hale, Kathryn Gallgher, Nicolette Robinson, and Autumn Best. The latter nearly steals the show, despite somewhat limited screen time.
Woman of the Hour’s wide release date is currently TBD. In the meantime, check out the 2023 movie release dates to plan your next movie experience.