Some devotees of trash cinema see virtues in this exploitation flick about ladies on the run after escaping prison, but those virtues escaped my notice. Perhaps fans of Women Unchained—also known as Five Angry Women—appreciate the way that much of the film comprises scenes of the characters talking about their feelings and personal histories. Fair enough, but for the fact that each character is a cheap writerly contrivance rather than a sincerely crafted mechanism for dramatizing harsh realities. Baby (Carolyn Judd) is a tough criminal trying to reconnect with the younger sister she hasn’t seen in years, while Tina (Darlene Mattingly) feels anguish because she was convicted for euthanizing her ailing mother. Other characters include a lesbian who feels timid about expressing her sexuality, a stereotypical smartass African-American convict, and so on. A real social drama has fully dimensional characters trapped in believable circumstances. Woman Unchained seems more like half-hearted junk rendered by people who are ashamed of what they’re doing. The picture is neither credible enough to take seriously, nor sleazy enough to enjoy as a guilty pleasure. The rotten soundtrack doesn’t help, because background tunes range from maudlin country to the sludgy rock. And would it have killed the filmmakers to inject humor once in a while? Still, I take no pleasure in maligning Women Unchained, since the picture avoids much of the usual women-in-prison sexploitation ugliness. Yet with nothing of merit in place of cheap thrills, the only possible reaction is indifference.
Women Unchained: LAME