Many A-list actors sign on to do films that look great and promising as a script but not so much as a finished product. These films are normally shelved by producers and distributors who are desperate to figure out how to market and release such weak films. Comedian Daniel Tosh introduced the world to the Matthew McConaughy and Gary Oldman disaster Tiptoes, a film where McConaughy is the average size twin brother to Oldman, who portrays a dwarf.
Yes, this happened
Oscar-winner Natalie Portman now has her very own skeleton to lock in its closet with the 2009 melodrama The Other Woman. Although it finished post-production two years ago, The Other Woman is just seeing the light of day with a DVD release May, 17th. Although The Other Woman isn’t a huge failure, it’s definitely the type of film that as an actor you’d regret and as a viewer you should pass on watching.
The title alone excited me as I expected a thriller about a crazy ex or the “single white female” type stalker, you know- something perfect for Lifetime. Instead The Other Woman tells the story of Emilia (Natalie Portman), a legal assistant who was the cause for her husband’s recent divorce from his wife, and the two dealing with the burden of having just lost their first born—you know, something perfect for Lifetime. Emilia must deal with the wrath of her husband Jack Woolfe’s (Scott Cohen) ex-wife Carolyn (Lisa Kudrow), their sheltered and socially awkward 11-year-old son William (Charlie Tahan), and the burgeoning stares from their snobby peers aware of her status as “home wrecker.”
One of these things is not like the other: the one is a homewrecker
The Other Woman is actually a pretty entertaining character study. Emilia is a woman with a chip of her shoulders; she’s not bitter and spiteful of the world but just hard around the edges and untrusting. On top of having to deal with the guilt and pain that comes with losing a child, she also has to deal with her place in her social circle of being “the other woman.” To make matters worse the stability of her friends and family began to take its toll throughout the film, resulting in fantastic performances from Portman, an actress who regardless of the film, never disappoints. Portman provokes empathy from audiences as she plays her character with great ease and likeness.
The Other Woman’s downfall, however, is the fact that it’s a melodrama in every sense of the word. The drama is plenty, the acting at times is over the top, there’s way too much crying, and the overall look of the film is oversaturated and grainy. The aesthetics of the film makes it look as if it were shot and made for television, particularly Lifetime or ABC Family Channel. The lighting comes off orangey and at times unflattering to the overall color scheme, detracting from any aesthetic beauty the brightly colored set design holds. The scenes appear so wholesome and cheesy at times, you expect Kirk Cameron to appear on screen.
ABC Family wishes all men were like Kirk Cameron.
While Emilia is a sympathetic character to follow, by the time the film reaches its halfway point her overreactions to situations stop being an understandable defense mechanism and instead becomes the annoying prideful antics of a woman. Also because the film focuses on the emotional hardships Emilia is experiencing as the “evil” stepmom, the plot gets pretty basic and tedious after a while. Arguments become commonplace and boring and it gets to the point that you may find yourself yelling the screen for some characters to just slit their wrists already to avoid any future drama.
Overall The Other Woman is a pretty good film; it’s just not something I’d recommend people seeing. The Other Woman in a nutshell is a Lifetime Original Movie with a bigger budget and more familiar faces, but nothing astounding and thought provoking. However, if watching an emotional drama about the breakdown of a family is your thing, then by all means grab that bucket of Ben and Jerry’s, that snuggie, and three light beers to enjoy it with.
Bonus Drinking Game
Take a drink: every time a character cries
Take a drink: every time an argument happens
Take a shot: when you feel the need to yell at the screen