The Other Woman Review
A likeable cast and some decent jokes make up for the predictable plot
In The Other Woman, a wife and two of her husband’s mistresses team up to get their revenge on the serial philanderer.If that sounds vaguely familiar, it’s because the plot is very reminiscent of the 1996 film The First Wives Club starring Diane Keaton, Goldie Hawn and Bette Midler. Of course the latest Hollywood take on the classic revenge plot lowers the age of the protagonists, with Cameron Diaz and Leslie Mann taking the lead roles, and there’s the twist of it being three woman against one man. But in all other respects, it retains the same basic message of female empowerment with a comic twist.
The film has been performing well at the box office but has been slammed by critics who feel the story goes for cheap laughs at the expense of its central message. That’s slightly harsh because although the plot is very predictable, the likeable cast and some laugh-out-loud moments make The Other Woman an entertaining way to spend 100 minutes. And, despite its obvious chick-flick roots, some serious eye candy in the form of Kate Upton and the welcome return of Don Johnson, mean that even men will have fun.
The plot centres around Carly Whitten (Diaz), a high-flying lawyer in New York City, who begins a whirlwind romance with the charming Mark King (played by Jamie Lannister himself, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau). Unfortunately it turns out that Mark is actually married to Kate (Leslie Mann) and her efforts to find out what her husband has been up to results in an unlikely friendship between the wife and the mistress. Although as Carly is quick to point out, she's not technically a mistress since she didn't know Mark was married and broke the relationship off as soon as she realised.
As it turns out Mark is quite the naughty boy and has more than one relationship going on the side, although where he finds the time and energy for all these affairs is anyone's guess. Whilst following Mark to the beach, Carly and Kate discover that he's also seeing the decidedly buxom Amber (played by newcomer and swimwear model Kate Upton). The three woman get together, bond over their shared disgust at Mark's behaviour and decide to get even. Helping them in this mission are Kate's single and handsome brother Phil (Taylor Kinney) and Carly's father Frank (played by Don Johnson).
Cameron Diaz once again proves herself to be a very gifted comic actor.
The majority of the film revolves around the three women planning their revenge on Mark, initially in small petty ways before a larger scheme becomes necessary. It's certainly true that the film doesn't really make the most of its female empowerment premise and ultimately only one character seems to be actually empowered by the events in the film, with the other two taking far more traditional roles. However there are some very funny set pieces, some great lines and Cameron Diaz once agin proves herself to be a very capable comic actor. Leslie Mann does her usual ditzy schtick and Kate Upton comes across as dim but cute but the three principals do have great chemistry together.
The men in the film don't get to be quite as funny, although Coster-Waldau deserves a medal for playing a truly obnoxious character and allowing himself to be humiliated throughout the second half of the film. It's a pleasure to see Don Johnson back on the big screen, in a small but fun role as a loveable rogue, and it's great to see he hasn't lost any of his charm. Taylor Kinney's part is somewhat underwritten, he's primarily there to be the good guy and if you don't know how things are going to work out within ten seconds of his character appearing on screen, you've obviously never seen a rom-com!
That is perhaps The Other Woman's biggest failing, the plot is so utterly predictable that you know exactly what's going to happen and there really are no surprises in store. So the jokes and set pieces need to be good because essentially you're waiting for the story to play out to it's inevitable conclusion. Thankfully there are enough jokes to make the journey worthwhile and it's always good to see the villain eventually get his comeuppance. Although there is a slight whiff of sexism in the film's portrayal of some of the male characters and you wonder how the film would play if the genders were reversed.
The film itself was shot on a relatively small budget of $40million and it certainly looks good, with some lovely photography and locations and tasteful production design. The wardrobe department consistently deliver the goods with all the woman dressed to the nines and they just about manage to keep Kate Upton in her bikini. Although it has to be said that The Other Woman exists in that strange cinematic world where everyone is gorgeous and rich, they all have lovely apartments and beach houses, regardless of what they do for a living and, yet, no one ever seems to do any work.
The story exists in that strange cinematic world where everyone is gorgeous and rich but no one ever seems to work.
The Other Woman was directed by Nick Cassavetes, the son of actors John Cassavetes and Gena Rowlands, and written by first-timer Melissa Stack. Cassavetes seems to specialise in chick-flicks, having previously directed The Notebook and My Sister's Keeper, also with Diaz. He certainly gives his female stars plenty of screen time and although his directorial style is rather pedestrian he manages to deliver an enjoyable film with enough energy to carry through to its fairly obvious denouement.
The Other Woman is a surprise hit that delivers enough laughs to overcome its derivative nature and failure to capitalise on its central premise of female empowerment. A likeable cast and solid direction combine to create a series of enjoyable set pieces that will keep its target female audience entertained and any men that also happen to be in the cinema.
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