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The Women

September 12, 2010

The Women (2008)
Director: Diane English
Actors: Meg Ryan, Annette Bening, Debra Messing

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Synopsis: A Connecticut housewife (Meg Ryan) leaves her husband who is having an affair with a hot young shop assistant (Eva Mendes)….

Review: Admittedly I have not seen George Cukor’s classic 1939 feature The Women, on which this version is based, so maybe I am missing something that was prevalent in the original, but I fail to see what is gained from the gimmicky exclusion of men from the film’s diegesis. If it is supposed to subliminally emphasise the self-reliance and empowerment of the female characters, it is a self-defeating exercise because surely a strong woman is defined by her relationships with all people and social structures (be they patriarchal or not) and to see that interaction is crucial. Artificially removing the male players also makes the drama unsatisfyingly empty, episodic and hugely reliant on tedious plot devices such as hearsay and numerous telephone conversations with off-camera men.

The fact that The Women also owes a clear debt to the Sex and the City franchise does itself no favours, as it lacks the strength of writing and the necessary time to flesh out all its characters and disparate plotlines that the TV show had. Also, the ambivalent messages about the material world are just about admissible in Sex and the City due to the younger age of its characters (all originally thirty-somethings from middling backgrounds), where as The Women’s attempt to ‘have its cake and it’ regarding the celebration of wealth and fashion, while also satirising it, feels less deserved, particularly when its central actress – Meg Ryan – is supposed to be the central figure of empathy and personal growth, when in reality she has ruined her natural looks and charm with a truly hideous facelift. (September 2009)

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