The Other Woman Reviews
Natalie Portman was once one of film's rising stars, but now she chooses some of the worst projects, and this one is even worse than No Strings Attached; I didn't even waste my time on Your Highness. The film front-loads a ton of exposition, and then the rest of the film is spent with characters spouting bullshit pop psychology at and about Emilia. She becomes the project of the film -- characters trying to figure her out -- but she's never an interesting character. The third act's engine is a suspicion about the child's death, and this plot line comes out of the walls, but by the time this film pulls that shit out its ass, I ceased believing that I would ever start caring about these characters.
Overall, Natalie Portman's career choices were so much better at the beginning.
I can't quite put a finger on Emilia's character. She's supposed to be kinda young or punky or sarcastic, but I don't think NaPo quite hits those points. The best scene is compliments of Lisa Kudrow (the other half of Romy & Michele, coincidental in that Mira Sorvino is the one who gives the best scene in Dandelion) when Carolyn gives medical evidence to Emilia, absolving her of her baby's death. Her delivery is cold, almost begrudging, but ultimately kind.
The story concerns a Harvard Law graduate named Emilia who begins with a relationship with her married boss Jack that results in her getting pregnant. After a swift divorce and a swift marriage, their daughter is born, only to tragically die three days later. Waht follows from there is Emilia's attempts to deal with her grief, as well as trying to win over her difficult and resentful stepson William and fend off Jack jealous and bitter ex-wife Carolyn.
Not the most unique story in the world, but it works...mostly. The film has some really good performances (albeit some occasional inconsistencies) but is dragged down by the fact that tonally it is all over the map, and isn't completely successful at coming together by the end. Had the tone been more consistent, and the jumps from romantic comedy to heartwrenching drama not been so jarring, I think I could have gotten more into things. It's not a bad movie, just one that's a little shy from hitting the mark.
There are some nice moments, and the film starts off on the right foot by opening to what just so happens to be my favorite song by the Flaming Lips, but from there kinda fumbles, mostly because it likes to jump around with flashbacks, which probably worked better in the book, but not so much here. Like I said though, the performances are mostly pretty good, and Natalie Portman has a tough role, but she mostly ges through it. She does well with playing cold and distant, but she's not as good at hitting the warmer moments. Lisa Kudrow is quite nice though as Carolyn, and it made me happy to see Lauren Ambrose and Anthony Rapp show up in small supporting roles.
All in all, it's okay. It has it's moments, but I think it should have not tried to be both a somber drama and a lighter romance film. That sort of thing can work, but it just seemed too clashing the way it was done here. You can see this if you want, but it's okay if you don't. The cast have put in terrific work elsewhere so if you miss this you can still see them impress in those other films.
Natalie is very good here. She plays Emilia, a woman who falls in love with a married man at work, a bit older than her who has a young son. When Emilia finds out she is pregnant, Jack leaves his wife, Carolyn, (Lisa Kudrow - playing one of the bitter women she does so well!), for her and they get married. Emilia's own child dies at only four days old and the movie mainly deals with her grief, the strained relationships she has with Jack and her stepson and Carolyn's resentment. It is definitely not a nice little chick flick to chuck on for a bit of light amusement!
I enjoyed this (if enjoy was the right word), but I certainly can't see myself wanting to sit there and watch it again anytime soon. Even though I am not overly sentimental about babies and kids (i can imagine this would be a regular weep fest for a lot of people!), I still found this sad and quite moving.
The small fault is that Natalie looks a little too young for the role (even though she is a married mother herself in real life), I guess she can't help being young faced!
Aspiring Lawyer Emilia Greenleaf (Natalie Portman) thought she knew what she wanted when she went after the sexy, married Senior Partner, Jack Woolf (Scott Cohen) . However, she didn't count on getting pregnant and married, and she certainly didn't plan on having to forge a relationship with her highly strung 5 year old stepson, William..
The film may seem like it has a little storyline, simple enough, but it grasps enough backround of all of the characters to make it a bit more complex. The movie works in a line of switching between past moments and present moments showing us how the characters got to the point where they are. Meet Emelia, she's married to Jack, a divorced man with an eight-year old son, William. William is just as complicated as Jack's annoying ex-wife Carolyne and Emelia does all she can to win the affection of William, even though it always turns out bad. With that complicated situation in Emelia's life, she also faces a recent trajedy, the death of her and Jack's newborn baby Isabel, who only lived for three days. With a struggle to find love from William, it only complicates Emelia and Jack's relationship more and she soon finds herself alone in her emotions.
Natalie Portman does it again! Her performance as Emelia is just as fantastic as her latest performance was in "Black Swan", if not better. In the past two months, Portman has released three different films, "Black Swan", "No Strings Attached", and this. She never seems to disappoint in any performance and there is no differance here. This is why Portman stands as one of the best actresses' of our time. Yes, I stand by that statement. Portman's character, Emelia, is as real as they come. Emelia's broken, but watching her trying to stand strong through the entire movie is heartbreaking. "The Other Woman" is a film in which actually does a great job with the crafting of each charac ter, all having a point, all having a situation they can't seem to solve.Lisa Kudrow ("Friends") plays a role unlike her usual genre. Normally playing the goofy, obnoxious type here she plays Carolyne, while still obnoxious but very serious about everything as well. Before seeing the movie I never imagined Kudrow to do as well as she did and I'm happy she proved me wrong. Charlie Tahan, playing eight-year old William reminded me of the kid from "The Switch" in every scene he was in. His bright, know-it-all character with Portman's character was great and their chemistry was fantastic. Scott Cohen as Jack, Emelia's husband, also gives a solid performance. I'm not too familar with anything he's done from the past, but, I'd like to see him do more in the future.
Don Roos wrote and directed this film based off the novel by Ayelet Waldman. With a story that seems simple, Roos crafts it into something much more complicated than it could have been, which makes it much more marvellous. His skill with the dialog between Emelia and William is great and his mellow-dramatic scenes can be breath-taking. As for the direction, I loved Roos' shots of the city. His zoom-in shots were perfect and I loved his idea of having one scene in particular in split-screen using one frame for the past, present, and future. It made it all the more emotional and realistic. If your interested in other works from Don Roos, he directed 2005's "Happy Endings" and wrote 2008's "Marley and Me".
The film does a great job balancing humor with drama. It places dry-humor when most needed especially in the scenes between William and Emelia. While their scenes can sometimes be over-dramatic, they can also be hilarious, as well. I loved Emelia's sarcastic-wit to most of William's comments, being hilarious each time.
It normally takes alot for me to learn something from a movie. A lesson, I mean. Having growing up with a stepmother myself, "The Other Woman" did a fine job making me feel guility for the ways I treated mine growing up. My family didn't have the complications of getting through a newborn's death, but, like William, I'd do all I could to get my stepmother in trouble with my father and never care at all. Before watching this movie I'd never think it'd take a toll on my childhood and had me thinking of something I'd never think I'd care about today.
Overall, "The Other Woman" is a fantastic little movie that stands as the best film of 2011 thus far. It's fantastic script brings out the best of each actor in the film making it feel more real. This is a movie that doesn't deserve to be looked away from and it not getting a wide-release is a mistake because I know it could have sucedded more. It sure deserved it.
On the surface, there is no reason why "The Other Woman" should not work. It has a good leading performance from Natalie Portman, a different point of view and some interesting thoughts about family. Sadly, a lot of that is undone by an odd story structure that renders the movie narratively inert by suggesting that the characters have already lived through their most important moments, with nothing left for them but going through the motions, like the movie. And then there is the unseemly feeling that Emilia might be just working out her daddy issues in her relationship with Jack while not exploring her giving up the law and her career. Yes, it is nice that the movie is not interested at all in dispensing blame, wisely suggesting in fact that we would all be better off in being less judgmental. But can I still blame Lisa Kudrow for her shrill performance which puts the movie unevenly in Emilia's favor?
If you plan on watching "The Other Woman"- and there's really no reason to why you should want to- prepare yourself. The film features a lot of crying and shouting; both done, in excess, by the film's star; Natalie Portman. I suppose if you want a melodrama, then by god, you've got one.
However, that's far from my personal recommendation. "The Other Woman" tries ever-so-hard to be a good movie, and deep down, it doesn't offend and it doesn't mean to hurt anybody. It's not particularly insulting to my intelligence, and it's far from the worst of melodramas, but if I see another one of these boring, excessive pictures, I'm going to have to sail far, far away from such dramatic territories.
I wouldn't have a problem with the story if it didn't feel so darned dry...and bleak...and boring. The film centers on a woman, Emilia (Portman), her relationship with a then-married-man (Scott Cohen), and her relationship with this man's son (Charlie Tahan). Emilia is having much trouble getting over the loss of a recent child; whose cause of death I shall not spoil.
Unfortunately, this film doesn't care much for human relations. Portman's character tries to connect better with the kid, in spite of the fact that the Emilia is a mean, profane, disgusting mother-figure; and the kid is one of those generic wise-ass youngsters.
You see, drama needs sympathy; and I can't feel sympathy for these characters. Casual movie-goers might do more than TRY to feel the pain that Amelia is going through, but it's hard to care when the film itself is so uninvolving. The script isn't smart, intoxicating, or interesting. The story I could care less about. The direction is uninspired and mediocre. Simply put, this is not a well-made film; and it's not a stupid one either, but it's most certainly bad none the less.
And I hate to say this too. I don't hate "The Other Woman", but it bored me. There was nothing to follow, nothing to care about, and no reason to invest. The film doesn't care how it's shot, how it's told, how it's directed, or how good it actually is. This bothers me, and it will bother anyone who at least appreciates essential decency in cinema. The only thing I can truly say for "The Other Woman" is that it wasn't god-awful, it didn't insult me, and I wouldn't call it "unpleasant". But pleasant...that's a word for another day.
And then there's Portman. Look, I like Natalie Portman. Hell, I loved her in "Black Swan"; which has landed her plenty of Hollywood roles recently, and none of them have seemed to truly pay off. I suppose it's my duty to base Portman's performance, as an actress, based on her character and craft, also as an actress. This is what I'll do here. Sadly, Portman is just decent in this role. I wouldn't call the performance note-worthy, and I wouldn't call it trashy. I just despise the character that Portman is playing, but this has happened before with the actress, and sadly, it shall happen again.
Look; "The Other Woman" may appeal to some people, and as I said, casual movie-goers might like it for the drama that it is. But I've seen movies like this one; and I've had enough. "The Other Woman" is a sad, pathetic, and almost effortless attempt at realistic drama. It fails in just about every way, and lacks the ability to be even mediocre. Maybe it gets close, but alas, no dice. I'd say it's almost indefinitely worth a miss, because there's nothing that can possibly be worth seeing here. I won't call the film disappointing, because I didn't have high hopes to begin with, but "The Other Woman" still needs to feel, you know, more fulfilling. Too bad it does not.
Natalie Portman is great as always, she never disappoints in any role she takes part on.
It's depressing, but it all ends well at the end.