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Friday, April 18, 2014

The Other Woman: A Film Review

The Other Woman (2009) - This was a very interesting drama, featuring an unsympathetic and often unlikable heroine. Natalie Portman took a risk playing a woman who knowingly sleeps with a married man, gets pregnant, marries him after he leaves his wife, and her baby dies after three days of life. Emilia is often cold, snobby, and deals with the grief of losing her baby by talking down to her 8-year old stepson William (Charlie Tahan), being irritated whenever he rambles, asks personal questions, or wastes her time. She's a really difficult character, and especially bad when she looks down on others while ignoring her own transgressions.

But the film has depth, and Emilia has to accept her baby's death while learning to accept her stepson, and own up to her coldness due to emotional trauma. The movie at both treats her as a three-dimensional character while not ignoring her awful attitude towards William (giving him ice cream when he is lactose-intolerant, giving sarcastic answers, snapping at him to shut up when he talks about her baby). She has to confront her selfishness towards her relationship with her husband and her part in the destruction of his family. The movie feels real, and took a chance on making a story about a difficult and unlikable character, especially a woman who would be called a "homewrecker."

The director/screenwriter Don Roos has a talent for making films with complicated female leads, like in Happy Endings or The Opposite of Sex. He also consistently works with Lisa Kudrow, giving her roles that were more complex and serious than the roles she played on Friends and The Comeback. I am not always a fan of Natalie Portman, as she can be very wooden, but this film allowed her to play a more human character, both good and bad, and to work with more depth and texture.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the review, looks more complicated and deep than I would have thought. I'll definitely check it out.