Review by Jack Foley
IT’S going to take a pretty compelling argument for me, a male critic, to convince the target audience for The Women not to bother seeing it. But here goes…
Diane English’s film is not only a pointless remake of George Cukor’s 1939 classic but an inferior rip-off of Sex & The City. It claims to be “a valentine to today’s woman”, as well as an appreciation of their efforts to navigate a complex web of choices, roles and responsibilities. But it feels more like a poison pen letter that does the modern woman no favours at all.
Mary Haines (Meg Ryan) is a modern woman struggling to cope with a cheating husband, a crumbling career and the betrayal of a best friend (played by Annette Bening).
After hitting rock bottom, she attempts to get her life back on track with the help of her other close friends (including Debra Messing and Jada Pinkett Smith), whilst getting one over on the object of her husband’s newfound affection (played by Eva Mendes).
The biggest problem with the film is that by focusing on a group of hideously rich and ultra successful New Yorkers it fails to hold any basis in reality. Meg Ryan’s Haines lives in an over-sized mansion complete with housekeeper and live-in nanny, while her best friend is the Devil Wears Prada-ish editor of a popular fashion magazine. And there are no men in the film at all, even though they play a massive part in proceedings.
To make matters worse, every character gets a happy ending that comes complete with all the trappings of a grandiose Hollywood-style fantasy.
If escapism is what you’re after, therefore, then The Women may tick some of the right boxes, but you still have to overcome a screenplay that fails to deliver a single character worth sympathising with.
Ryan, in particular, is more irritating than relatable, while Bening’s high-powered executive seems to be borrowing heavily from both the look and bitchiness of Kim Cattrall’s Sex & The City creation.
Eva Mendes offers some fleeting fun as the mistress at the centre of the story, while Bette Midler and Carrie Fisher supply lengthy cameos, but nothing or no one can ultimately save The Women from becoming an unrealistic bore which, if anything, sets the on-screen depiction of women back a notch or three.
Running time: 1hr 54mins
UK DVD Release: March 16, 2009