A Good Woman - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

A Good Woman Reviews

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February 27, 2013
Moving story. Loved it!
½ February 16, 2013
I though the cast was superb, and I liked the photography.
½ February 5, 2013
This movie is, ultimately, not very good. But. Costumes are very pretty as is the scenery, so if that's enough to make you happy, this could be worth a watch. There are good people in this film, but I'm not sure what they were thinking since the storyline is pretty stupid. Maybe the script made it sound better? Mildly romantic but only slightly, so if you hope for a satisfying romance, this won't really do it. Really, its best features are the costumes & sets, & a simple plot (if simplicity is your preference). Perhaps a good light escapist jaunt if that's what you feel like. Keep your expectations low, however, and you won't be too disappointed.
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.
½ January 15, 2013
a good waste of time.
January 11, 2013
The leading ladies did not lead, but only followed. I was mostly embarrassed for them and their horrible accents and silly immature behavior. I think it goes to show why Hunt never became a star. The Italian village was beautiful as well as romantic. Vukotic was strong as well as Moore.

Perhaps the story was flawed as well, showing the problems of marriage and how everyone cannot be trusted even when they should be. I may just read the play to see whether Wilde's writing is up to snuff.
January 5, 2013
Odd, but nice. Helen Hunt's acting was lacking but Scarjo looked absolutely stunning.
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.
October 1, 2012
I loved the costumes and typically I like Scarlett Johansson but I thought she was horrible in this film. Her voice had no intonation.
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.
½ August 30, 2012
Mostly enjoyed for Helen. Particularly her fan scene!
½ August 30, 2012
Comparada con la obra de teatro de Oscar Wilde "Lady Windemere's Fan" la cual inspira √ (C)ste film, deja mucho que desear. A√ļn as√≠, si no te has le√≠do la obra, y quieres pasar un rato tranquilo con buenos di√°logos (con la clara firma de Wilde), √ (C)ste pel√≠cula te lo puede ofrecer.
July 29, 2012
A solid but not exactly inspiring film. A pity, since the source material is well-written.
hunterjt13
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.
½ May 18, 2012
A good woman--redefined.
March 25, 2012
Charming film version of Wilde's play marred only by your dislike for either of the female protagonist actors.
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