Wednesday, 7 May 2014

The Other Woman

Wife Woes
There is a single moment in The Other Woman which teasingly hints at the great film which could so easily have been.

A betrayed stay-at-home wife (Leslie Mann) shuffles aimlessly through a supermarket after she discovers her husband’s shocking infidelity. Her lonely eyes gaze at the encircled Stepford wives, all costumed in uniform attire of bright polo shirts, golf sweaters and cream trousers. Here are the idle and docile women, wracking their brains over which Waitrose-like food to buy while their partners earn millions and sleep around.

This tiny sequence lasts a matter of seconds but totally outclasses the rest of the movie with its penetrating sentiment. Imagine a writer like Woody Allen mining the bourgeois suburban relationship circuit for giggles amid meaningful reflection on the toxic fall-out from spousal betrayal. Except that you don’t have to. Whereas last year’s Blue Jasmine brilliantly commented on a world of sleaze and white collar obnoxiousness, the latest comedy vehicle for Cameron Diaz is unoriginal, shallow and abysmally unfunny.

When two women realise they have been used by the same man (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) these humiliated girls decide to fight back. Pretty soon the scheming couple are joined in their plot by a third mistress (Kate Upton).

Revenge comedies are hardly a dependable genre but Nick Cassavetes has made a film which lacks the laughs to even appear competitive alongside 9 to 5 and John Tucker Must Die. Aside from the fragmentary supermarket scene, each segment feels unintentionally insincere. Here be glitz, glamour and dollar galore but no substance to make you actually care. Only a piece of comedy gold could justify the overwhelming superficiality of it all yet audiences are sadly given a script about as funny as an episode of Waking the Dead.

Leslie Mann receives a few chuckles for her energetic bouts of physical buffoonery (she plays a good drunk) but the lines she utters - whether scripted or unwisely improvised - fail to grasp any understanding of what makes people smirk. Now I know what Bridesmaids would be like without the humour, pathos and intelligence. Maybe after ten vodkas I might finally find some amusement in this rubbish.

At least the scenery looks pretty. Although with location shots in trendy New York, New England and the Bahamas, it would be impossible for the cinematography to look anything other than picturesque. But these beautiful panoramas detach the story from its moral footing. No humility remains to relate with genuine people and the realities of ambiguous human emotions. Indeed, at no point is there any attachment to the characters or their dilemma; each actor is just as irritating as the next.

After a purple patch of fun films for females in recent years, The Other Woman is a timely reminder that Hollywood still stinks at writing for women. This is less everyday sexism and more plastic, ignorant, misdirected, boring, hollow dross.


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