The Women (2008) *

Rated: PG-13
Runtime: 1hr 54min
Director: Diane English
Stars: Meg Ryan, Annette Bening, Eva Mendes, Debra Messing, Jada Pinkett Smith, Candice Bergen
Genre: Comedy
Language: English

Sometimes You Don’t Feel Like a Natural Woman

In a Nutshell

Plot

Straight as an Arrow
Twisty

Sound Quality

Easy to Hear
Incomprehensible

Who's That?

Few Main Characters
Lots

Naughty Words

Mild
Foul

Naked people

None
Lots

Violence

Tame
Bloody

I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen during The Women. Meg Ryan’s lips were mesmerizing! I was just so entertained by them that I realized I wasn’t paying attention to the movie — and boy was that a good thing. The Women is a remake of the George Cukor film of the same name made in 1939. Clare Booth Luce wrote the original play in 1936 about a group of upper class Manhattan women.

Diane English, who created the groundbreaking sitcom Murphy Brown, would seem a perfect choice in bringing an updated version of the story to film. Well, about the only thing she did right was to bring along Candice Bergen, who of course played the acerbic Brown on television. Bergen has the three or four funny lines in the film. The rest of the cast is a powerhouse of women all with outstanding track records until now!

Meg Ryan plays Mary Haines, a housewife who is very caught up in her suburban lifestyle. Her opening scene shows her planting flowers in the garden at her Connecticut home. She is awaiting the arrival of her three best friends at a charity luncheon she is hosting. Arrive they do — Annette Bening as Sylvie Fowler, a slick magazine editor, Debra Messing, looking like a flower child from the sixties and Jada Pinkett Smith, who is some sort of writer and just happens to be gay (what is she doing in this movie?). The acting is way over the top. Just about every scene should be funny but isn’t. The gals appear to be trying too hard to amuse us. The comic timing is missing here. The jokes fall flat. The audience with whom I saw the film never once let out a laugh except when Meg Ryan was on screen, and it had nothing to do with her lines.

Oh yes, the story. Mary’s husband is having an affair with the spritzer girl at Saks, disappointingly played by the almost always sultry Eva Mendez (not sultry enough here). Sylvie, of course finds this out from a manicurist played by Debi Mazar whose character is from Queens and sounds it (very cliché). Soon enough all three gal friends come to Mary’s aid with advice on how to handle her cheating man. While this is all going on, Mary has a falling out with Sylvie and the friendship ends. Time passes and as we know, “Time heals all wounds.” That’s fine if they’re healed in a believable way, but not here. Everything comes together too neatly and too quickly and with very little emotion or understanding on the character’s parts. We feel as if we’ve been cheated. The final scene, while trying to finally surprise us fails, as does most of this movie!

One interesting note is that there is nary a man to be seen in the film. The screen is filled with women from the opening shot to the final shot. Even the background scenes in the city are comprised of women only. If only the women in the story were as interesting as that idea, we might have something.

A former teacher of English Literature, Paul J. Cassese taught in the NYC school system for more than thirty years. Paul enjoyed taking the wonderful film courses of Richard Brown and Scott Siegel, and is excited about his new role as an online film reviewer. Going to the movies has been a passion of Paul’s since boyhood. Paul thanks his dad for passing that on to him.

Comments

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