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Lights! Action! Mascara! Lights! Action! Mascara!
by Asa Butcher
2008-10-12 10:47:28
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Information
Film
The Women
Directed by Diane English
2008, Picturehouse Entertainment

Last year Demi Moore complained that there aren't that many good roles for women over 40, "A lot of them don't have much substance, other than being someone's mother or wife." Well, there is a film on general cinema release called The Women and, unbeknown to me when sitting down to watch it, the entire film, albeit one very brief appearance of a baby boy at the end, consists of women.

The main characters are women, the extras are women, the street scenes consist entirely of women and the director is a woman - if this was a penis drinking game then we'd all be very sober by the final credits. Sadly if some alcohol had been zinging around my bloodstream while watching the film then I may have been far gentler in this review. It seems though that even the executives at Warner Bros. were unimpressed and didn't release the film until they saw the box office success of Sex and the City.

Sex and the City is a TV show that never appealed to me, although I have seen the occasional episode, and this was all I could think of throughout the film. Yes there were funny moments, but not enough to counterbalance the cliché, obvious plot direction and insane amount of women - I haven't seen that many women on screen since Lesbian Love Fest 2 a few years ago (I'm joking, of course… they didn't make a sequel).

I didn't have any problem with the film being woman-biased. In fact, the jokes and criticism in the film are aimed more at the women than the men, but it still didn't stop it all from feeling like a television episode. This feeling may have something to do with the fact that director Diane English is best known for creating and producing the television series "Murphy Brown" - The Women is also English's directorial debut.

You may be surprised to also learn that The Women is not an original Hollywood production; yes, they have once again remade an old film - shocking, but true - and this time the unlucky film was George Cukor's 1939 film of the same name, which also only starred women. The 1939 version featured, among many others, Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford, Rosalind Russell, Paulette Goddard and Joan Fontaine, which is one hell of a cast.

The 1939 version has been updated for 2008, with the main character Mary Haines (played by Meg Ryan, who mysteriously transforms into Jennifer Anniston halfway through) discovering that her husband is having an affair with a Saks Fifth Avenue 'Spritzer Girl' (Eva Mendes) - the film does run as an ad for the New York store. However, her best friend Sylvie (Annette Bening) also finds out about the affair and thus the fun (sort of) begins.

There are a number of extra characters thrown in, such as a rebelling daughter (India Ennenga), a fun mother (Candice Bergen, the same actress that was Murphy Brown), a lesbian author (Jada Pinkett Smith), an ever-pregnant friend (Debra Messing), an entertaining housekeeper (Cloris Leachman), a mean columnist (Carrie Fisher) and Bette Midler, who has the film's funniest scenes.

None of the actresses are going to win awards for this film and the film won't enjoy any Oscar night success, but it does have some moments that are worth watching for, especially the aforementioned Bette Midler scenes. It may grate on your nerves, mainly the male viewers, but if you open a bottle of wine and switch off your brain then it will certainly pass a quiet evening. However, I suggest you just go and find the original…

* * * * *

Let's play a game. Take the five main actresses from The Women (Meg Ryan, Annette Bening, Eva Mendes, Debra Messing and Jada Pinkett Smith) and connect them in a neat circle, like so:

Jada Pinkett Smith was in Ali with Will Smith, who was in Hitch with Eva Mendes, who was in Ghost Rider with Nicolas Cage, who was in City of Angels with Meg Ryan, who was in Courage Under Fire with Denzel Washington, who was in The Siege with Annette Bening, who was in Open Range with Robert Duvall, who was in Lucky You with Debra Messing, who was in Along Came Polly with Ben Stiller, who was in Madagascar with Jada Pinkett Smith.

Sad, isn't it.


   
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Sand2008-10-12 11:15:07
I remember when the original version was released. There was a guarantee that a horse shown in the film was female.


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