A Good Woman - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

A Good Woman Reviews

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Super Reviewer
July 6, 2012
A woman suspects her husband of infidelity when an older woman who has a sullied reputation comes to town.
Why do modern directors and writers think they are smarter than some of the best writers in the English language? In this case, Oscar Wilde's great play Lady Windemere's Fan gets distorted, the worst sin coming in the third act of the film. In addition to alterations in the plot, writer Howard Himelstein interjects some of Wilde's random witticisms into the script; for example, there is little reason why America being the only country to go from barbarism to decadence without civilization in between should be included in the film. It's funny, of course, but out of place.
Helen Hunt does not deliver a strong performance. I often thought that Wilde's sophisticated dialogue puts Hunt out of her element, and Scarlett Johannson isn't much better. Obviously the Britons, Tom Wilkinson and Stephen Campbell Moore aren't similarly affected.
Overall, the source material is strong, but the film isn't.
Super Reviewer
March 6, 2012
What a strange title... almost all the women pissed me off in this movie. I take that back; all the characters pissed me off. There is so much deceit, cheating, and dishonesty going about this plot that we, as the audience, don't know who to root for. There's a group that are the gossipers, Helen Hunt's the seductress, Scarlett Johansson wavers between loyalty and betrayal, and worst of all, Stephen Campbell Moore tries his hardest to break the bond of marriage to satiate his want to sleep with a hot girl. Yeah, you heard me; Campbell Moore says that he does it for the sake of "love" but I call it a booty call, and I make that assumption based on his annoying ass character's mannerisms and actions. What particularly annoyed me the most was how almost everyone within this movie was NOT genuine until the movie decides to wrap everything up with a happy, feel-good ending.

"A Good Woman" is put together sloppily with very generic techniques that add nothing to the subpar plot with some of the most annoying side characters I've seen in a very long time. This movie is not worth a watch.
Super Reviewer
½ October 8, 2007
its an alright film
Super Reviewer
August 10, 2008
The tone of this adaptation is sooo serious and strips away much of Oscar Wilde's bombastic wit. Stephen Campbell Moore is my new It Guy.
Super Reviewer
June 27, 2013
Based on a play by Oscar Wilde, A Good Woman is a satirical comedy set in the 1930s. The story follows a seductress, who preys upon rich men, as she heads for the coast of Italy in search of new prospects. The film stars Helen Hunt, Scarlett Johansson, and Tom Wilkinson, who all give strong performances. The costumes and set designs are also quite impressive, and have an authentic feel to them. However, the writing is dialog heavy, and it interferes with the storytelling. While the film has some problems, A Good Woman is an entertaining film with a smart sense of humor.
Super Reviewer
April 2, 2009
Not as literary minded as some who may have previously reviewed this, I will not be comparing this to the Oscar Wilde original on which it was based. It is similar in theme, although with a different moral, to the recent film, Priceless. While this viewer saw Wilde's subtle hand behind the script, this film is able to stand on its own. I found it to be quite annoying as various characters made serious judgements and accusations based on little knowledge and a whole lot of imagination. Newly married Meg Windemere (Scarlett Johansson) appears ready to kick her husnband (Stephen Campbell Moore) to the curb for suppposed indescretions with Mrs. Erlynne (Helen Hunt) a notorious gold-digger who has worn out her welcome in other locales. I had to stop and start several times, just to let my frustrations subside. However, staying to the end proved quite rewarding, as all of the various fractures and threads are brought to a most satifying conclusion. As a commentary on contemporary mores it seems a little dated, but was quite an entertaining confection. Tom Wilkinson played Tuppy as a slightly jaded man who nevertheless decided to give love another go with Mrs. Erlynne. Conversation at a party: "Would she even look at you if you were poor?" "Would I even look at her if she were ugly? Fair exchange." Lovely costumes, beautiful sets, two gorgeous women, a terrific supporting cast, and witty dialogue, this one just about had it all.
Super Reviewer
½ April 6, 2007
[font=Century Gothic]In "A Good Woman", it is 1930 when flat broke, professional mistress Stella Erlynne(Helen Hunt) leaves New York for the sunnier climes of Italy where she hopes to land another wealthy benefactor in a land teeming with them. Her prime target is the young Robert Windermere(Mark Umbers), married about a year to Meg(Scarlett Johansson).[/font]
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[font=Century Gothic]"A Good Woman" is a curiously lifeless adaptation of Oscar Wilde's "Lady Windermere's Fan" that really only has Wilde's patented bon mots and Tom Wilkinson's charming performance going for it. The blame lies mostly in the horrendous miscasting of Helen Hunt who is simply dreadful and has always had the sex appeal of a rotten banana.(So, it's not simply her age. After all, Helen Mirren still has it.)[/font]
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[font=Century Gothic]What the movie seeks to convey is the lack of opportunities for a woman excommunicated from society in that day and age and who is forced to live on the margins.(But Mrs. Erlynne's profligate spending does not help her cause.) And it also serves as a commentary on society's inability to mind its own business.[/font]
Super Reviewer
September 1, 2013
When it comes to adapting the work of such a famous writer like Oscar Wilde, almost any director will fall into some difficulties in portraying such vivid storytelling, especially in re-envisioning the wildly popular play "A Good Woman". Mike Barker's adaptation is both wonderfully cast and wrongfully cast in many instances, as is it often acceptably portrayed and mistakenly portrayed on several occasions. Helen Hunt as Mrs. Erlynne tends to feel a bit miscast. While Hunt is normally a strong and insightful actress, her performance here is muddled, never possessing the femme fatale factor needed to carry her sexuality to the level it needs to be. Instead, she often appears unsure of herself, a choice she makes, but ultimately squanders any sexual undertones surrounding her role. On the other hand, Tom Wilkinson is expertly cast as Tuppy, who embodies his prestige with a vigor all his own, regularly stealing the show and becoming the highlight of the last half of the film. Scarlett Johansson, neither strongly nor badly casted, does carry the naivety needed to successfully delineate the role of Meg and even surprises on occasion. If you've never experienced Wilde's play, as I had not, the film does well to hide many of the story's secrets and produces a mix between great revelations and poor conclusions. Overall, "A Good Woman" rides the borderline between a good adaptation and a misguided one, presenting Wilkinson and Johansson in enough of a favorable light to make the film worth it, but with no expectations of being a favorite.
Super Reviewer
May 15, 2010
I sat down to watch this movie because it was running on tv and I actually enjoyed it very much. Helen Hunt is a gold digger who has got a lot of money from New York husbands and this has damaged her reputation. She then travels to Italy to seek fresh prospects and the gossip soon spreads here too. Here she meets this newlywed US financier with a young and fragile wife. This movie very much illustrates Oscar Wilde's style and I thought it was great. Great acting and a great plot.
Super Reviewer
½ August 12, 2006
Trying to be Noel Coward as well as Oscar Wilde and failing miserably. It's diverting, I'll give it that.
Super Reviewer
½ April 11, 2007
Weak direction and poor casting choices make this screen adaptation of an Oscar Wilde play dull and completely forgettable. Helen Hunt, Mark Umbers and Scarlett Johansson take excellent dialog and give it the emotional impact one would expect from a department store mannequin. Kudos go to Tom Wilkinson for his excellent performance, as well as the costuming and set designers for their contributions to this snoozer of a film.
June 23, 2015
In the end , I found it hard to follow the script & came to conclude that it was up to me to belive what I wished about all that was implied. Which was the the truth & the lie covering it & truth behind that lie etc.
June 11, 2014
This was a pretty good movie. The supporting cast was great. They spent the whole movie gossiping and they had the best lines in the movie.
½ March 30, 2013
The women in this movie just ended up being a little irritating. Maybe it was the casting choices, but the only really enjoyable thing in this movie ended up being the banter between the men (even though it was extremely sexist-it was of the time, so it was pretty funny). Definitely not up to the standard of Oscar Wilde.
January 24, 2013
I love Helen Hunt and how she delivers her lines. There is an aura of confidence about her. The story line was very interesting and kept me on the edge of my seat.
January 2, 2013
Helen Hunt gives perhaps the worst line readings of her career and Johansson gives the most wooden performance I've seen her give, but the rest of the performances are good.

Regarding the liberties taken with the play, I think that's actually the film's strong suit. Within the play itself, most of the exposition is handled with soliloquy. In a film, you can do that by letting the characters break the fourth wall--the more recent film adaptation of "Richard III" is an example of doing this well--but I applaud the decision to add a expository sequence that weaves most of that material into a linear narrative. Also, given that there ARE scenes featured exactly as Wilde wrote them, and Wilde is without parellel among playwrights active towards the more modern end of things, I think it speaks to the strength of Himmelstein's writing that they only stand out starkly if you are familiar with the play and recognize the quotes.

On a structural level, what I identify as the film's major weakness is the 1930s setting. You can't believably set a film in 1930s Italy without SOME acknowledgement of the Depression and the rise of the European fascists. The film does address the Depression at one point, but identifies it as an American, not a global, problem. If this is meant to speak to the characters cluelessness about what is going on around them, it was either executed badly at the script level or lost in the editing.

Moreover, I think they only set it in the early 20th century so they could update Wilde as much as possible without loosing the mocking of high society as presented in the original work. I think that points to either the writer possibly not knowing what the story was really about or not wanting to lose some of the more biting Wilde dialogue. If the writer insisted on making that choice, it would have been wiser to set it in the 1920s, which would have avoided the awkwardness of showing these characters living in untroubled decadence during a global economic depression and made Erlynne's backstory even more reddeming by putting her youth in the end of the era of the robber barrons rather than in the Gilded Age.
December 20, 2012
An Interesting Variation

Naturally, any version of a work of classic literature that isn't spot-on the original has the prospect of losing something in adaptation. And indeed, this version lost quite a bit. They seem to have gone out of their way to have kept in the best of the lines, or at least the best-known of the lines. However, they still trimmed enough away so that I don't know if we really got the best possible version of [i]this[/i] version, if you know what I mean. I'm not sure how long an unabridged version of this would be, because I've never seen it--possibly the only version I've ever actually seen is the silent one, which has its own problems--but I feel certain there must be something missing. Oscar Wilde was lazy, but he also liked the sound of his own voice, be it spoken or literary. The idea that an adaptation of one of his works best comes in at under an hour and a half is improbable to me.

Mrs. Erlynne (Helen Hunt) is a notorious woman. She has gone to Amalfi in the hopes of finding a wealthy man to take care of her. What she finds, among other things, is young Robert Windermere (Mark Umbers). He is less than a year married to Meg (Scarlett Johansson), who is about to turn twenty-one and is having a party to celebrate. But Mrs. Erlynne knew Meg, twenty years earlier. She knew Meg, because she is Meg's mother. She abandoned husband and daughter and disappeared, and all these years, Meg has believed that her mother is dead. Robert begins paying Mrs. Erlynne to keep her from revealing herself to Meg. Meg, alas, finds out about it, mostly through the machinations of the dastardly Lord Darlington (Stephen Campbell Moore). Darlington is attracted to Meg--it isn't love or obsession, because he doesn't feel that deeply, but it is nonetheless enough for him to hope that she will leave her husband for him. Mrs. Erlynne is herself the object of affection of Tuppy (Tom Wilkinson), but she will sacrifice what she must to protect her daughter.

I like the choice of setting for this version. I'm not sure where the quotes about Americans come from, as the Windermeres are not American in the original--hence "Lady Windermere," of course. However, it does put an interesting twist on how determined they are to be part of society. Of course, Mrs. Erlynne's reputation ensures that she would Not Be Received no matter what, but how much more willing they all are to believe something shocking about her because she is American. How much more innocent and sheltered Meg is allowed to appear because she is unused to the ways of British society. By setting the whole thing in Italy, not London, it is easier for Tuppy to have his happy ending. It is also a particularly glamorous era for women's clothing, meaning that Meg's birthday party is even more beautiful than it might otherwise be were they dressed in the right clothing for the time the play was actually written.

It's a bit odd how much this play celebrates "traditional marriage." Oh, there's a strong theme of forgiveness running through the whole thing, though it is deemed better for Meg that her mother be dead than "wicked." However, Mrs. Erlynne is not seen by Wilde as entirely wicked. What she did long ago wasn't right, though she was punished for it. Blackmailing Robert wasn't right, either, though this version, at least, implies that she doesn't have much of any other way to survive. (Though see my rant about smart women from [i]How to Marry a Millionaire[/i], not set that long afterward.) In the end, though, the happiest ending is that Robert and Meg stay married. People think of Oscar Wilde as some kind of profligate--and, come to that, he was for his own era. However, he was in his own way quite moral. Yes, Meg's a bit of a stuffy prig, and she needs to learn to loosen up, but the answer is not to loosen up so much that she runs off with a lover, repeating her own mother's mistake.

Once again, I have encountered a role wherein I'm not sure if Scarlett Johansson is acting, because she clearly doesn't have to. However, I must say that the most impressive part of this movie was Helen Hunt's performance. While she is old enough to be Scarlett Johansson's mother--if she were as old when her daughter was born as her daughter is supposed to be here--it's a little surprising that she was still willing to [i]play[/i] Scarlett Johansson's mother. She doesn't look like an old woman, but she looks middle-aged, a thing that seems almost less likely for an actress to be willing to try to play. She does not play the character as terribly maternal, but she plays her as someone who wishes she could be maternal. She's interested in herself, and interested in herself most of all, but she also wants what's best for Meg. She just isn't used to thinking about other people's needs. She's been Wicked for so long that being loving comes as a surprise to her. It's a fine performance in an iffy movie.
November 4, 2012
The plot is lacking, and the best way I can think to describe this movie is "dreary." But the acting is solid, and there's a certain amount of crassness that makes it just interesting enough to keep watching. I'm really not sure why, but I enjoyed this.
½ September 10, 2012
This movie was so sad, interesting, and inspirational, but such a sweet happy ending. This movie was clean, it wasn't too messy. I love vintage, classy style when it comes to movies. I enjoyed watching this. Helen Hunt and Scarlet Johansson could really come off as a relative with the same hairstyle and color.
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