Wearing bouncy ringlets, a teal bandage dress, knee-high leather boots and, importantly, a glossy mid-00s French manicure, the British actor and noughties It girl Sienna Miller appears to have stepped through a sliding door and into an alternate universe.
In American Woman, directed by Jake Scott (son of Ridley), she’s an American everywoman, albeit the kind who looks ever so slightly too glamorous to be bagging groceries in her small Pennsylvania town. Miller plays Deb, a single mother (actually, a grandmother) whose life alters when her teenage daughter, Bridget (the pop singer Sky Ferreira), goes missing. The film is not a whodunnit but a slice-of-life drama that sticks by Deb’s side as she spends the next 11 years raising Bridget’s son and attempting something of a normal life after the trauma of losing her daughter.
Deb is a magnetic creation: funny, lewd, mostly pragmatic, though her head is occasionally overruled by her bodily passions. She drinks boxed wine; she attracts and is attracted to unsuitable and abusive men. Miller’s finely tuned performance manages to be tough and sparky and just world-weary enough, without slipping into one-size-fits-all inspirational “survivor” cliche.
Admittedly, some stretches of the film have more energy than others. Deb’s whirlwind relationship with nice guy Chris (Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul, miscast here) feels draggy. Infinitely more watchable is the intimate and frequently testy interplay between Miller and Christina Hendricks, who plays Deb’s more traditional older sister.
Source: The Guardian