14 September 2008
At the movies: The Women.
So Diane English's long-gestating remake of the 1939 film The Women finally came out in theatres, and I simply do not understand the poisonous word of mouth and reviews it's been receiving. It's fairly messy, and there are a few bad performances in it (Eva Mendes, Debra Messing, and Jada Pinkett, I'm talking to you), but on the whole it's got a lot on its mind, and it gives us some great work from Annette Bening, Cloris Leachman, Bette Midler, Candice Bergen, and Meg Ryan.
It deals with betrayal and friendship and eating and alienation and birth and melancholy and desire and power, and it's about ninety times more enjoyable (and less evil) than the Sex & The City movie. The Women at least feels like it's dealing with real women's issues (even if its opening CG fakeout suggests more of the same venal consumerist porn) and having discussions that you don't usually get to see at the movies. I also find that the quiltlike nature of Meg Ryan's face adds immeasurably to the hurt at the center of her character, layering on a whole different subtextual angle as to what all she's given to her marriage. That may be me getting a little too meta-, but it certainly ratchets up the tension a bit.
I haven't seen the George Cukor original, but you can bet that I will now (my father is practically insisting). Certainly I would like to see Diane English's dialogue on the big screen more often, because hers is a unique voice that doesn't back down on women's issues, populist but not meek or campy.
So here's to The Women. It's like a half a Xanax, a margarita, and a pleasant afternoon, all in one.