designer Mary Haines (Meg Ryan), who lives in a beautiful country
home with her wealthy financier husband and their 11-year-old daughter. Her best friend, Sylvie Fowler (Annette
Bening), is the editor of a prominent fashion magazine, a woman who dictates the latest in taste and style for New York City fashionistas. When Mary's
husband becomes involved with Crystal Allen (Eva Mendes),
a perfume sales girl in Saks Fifth Avenue, her friendship with Sylvie is put to the test. Everyone in their close-knit
circle of friends, including the ever-pregnant Edie Cohen (Debra
Messing) and author Alex Fisher (Jada Pinkett-Smith), begins to question their loyalty to each other and their romantic involvements.
From a male perspective, when “The Women” DVD fell onto my lap, it caused a lot of groaning and grumbling from yours truly. The reasons were simply how would a male perspective be able to comprehend the complicated complex reasoning of the female mind and the general consensus for this movie (ie the imdb and rotten tomatoes) wasn’t that good.
And for most early parts of the movie, this movie resonates with the general consensus’s ratings. The women in this movie were yapping, gossiping and squabbling non stop about adultery, various other issues that they are facing and their love for shopping (my eyes rolled back at a very weak “Nobody hates Saks” statement). Not exactly a guy’s type of movie to enjoy since it’s a well known fact that guys like to deal with women’s problem like he like to run a marathon with high heels (there are already countless jokes about guys with women problems so let’s move on). Beside that, the women in this movie are also being boringly pegged with various stereotypical roles such as the strong career type, the mother with too many kids, the lesbian and etc.
For most part, the direction that this movie was taking felt aimless and felt that it was driven by a female driver that gives the female drivers the bad rep. The supporting cast of Annette Bening, Debra Messing, Jada Pinkett Smith and Eva Mendes were all given very little to support the movie or the main issue that the lead character Mary (Meg Ryan). Confrontation and group supports were ineffectively set up and did very little to make this movie memorable. It’s hard to imagine that the director Diane English spent 15 years to bring this remake of the 1939 classic back onto the screen.
Then when Candice Bergen appears in a supporting role as Mary’s mom and spouted some wisdom about adultery, it started to make sense. Instead of the usual give’em hell like a woman scorned, it took a more sensible approach of copping with a cheating husband. While many other ladies might disagree (such as Mary’s three buddies) and would very much like to hit a big fuss it gave a viewpoint of fixing the problem or tearing the gap apart. It went on to build empowerment for the women and although this movie didn’t show much, it made a good point that a strong woman is more attractive than one that is crushed about an adulterous husband.
Beside the message, there were witty exchanges (as again, weirdly not by those names printed on this DVD cover) that was fun to watch. The scene where Uta and Maggie gave a running commentary of the fight between Mary and her husband was one of the few showcases of witty exchanges that one is accustomed to in Murphy Brown.
The novelty of only having female appearing in front of the screen for most part of the movie was quite an enjoyable distraction. Knowing that fact, it keeps one alert for scenes that include a lot of people in the backgrounds and checking for any goofs in allowing a male to accidentally walk onto the backgrounds. It’s also fun to see how certain scenes are played out when a male character needed to be involved with the story telling aspect.
Overall, the Women didn’t turn out to be that bad as this male reviewer was expecting. Some interesting issues about the opposite gender were learnt and there were some fun moments during the show. It’s definitely worth giving this DVD a spin even for the guys.
The Women is presented as visually clear and vibrant as any recent movies should be presented in DVD format. The dialogue in this movie (which is the most important in this talky movie) was also delivered crisp and clear.
Review by Richard Lim Jr