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A Good Woman

August 30, 2010

A Good Woman (2004)
Director: Mike Barker
Actors: Helen Hunt, Scarlett Johansson, Tom Wilkinson

Synopsis: Lady Windermere (Scarlett Johansson) is saved from social disgrace by Mrs Erlynne (Helen Hunt)….

Review: A vague and unconvincing riff on Oscar Wilde’s “Lady Windermere’s Fan”, this film’s relocation of the play to a 1930s Amalfi coastline full of expat Brits and Americans proves largely pointless. The film has more in common with the elements of classic soap opera – series after series of conflict and resolution – than with Wilde’s initial satire and drama. Chief among the problems is the sense that the actors, particularly the louche elderly English gents, are merely mouthing Wildean dialogue, rather than rattling it off with the requisite barb and élan. Equally problematic is the inherent artlessness of the production; though in possession of an estimable location, wardrobe and set design, the filmmakers seem content to point the camera at the scenery, rather than attempt to make the material speak through cinematic means. For greater attempts at the period genre, look no further than the recent Edith Wharton adaptations by Martin Scorsese and Terence Davies. (April 2008)

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