Wednesday 17 January 2018

Film review: The Other Woman fails the Bechdel test

The Other Woman
The Other Woman

Hilary A White

DEVISED as a sort of feminist narrative checklist, the Bechdel Test requires that a story feature at least two women in it, who talk to each other, and about something other than a man. A film such as Frozen would pass with flying colours.

Although every rom-com would fail the acid test, The Other Woman in particular would make Alison Bechdel, the theory's inventor, spin in her grave. And she's not even dead yet.

Most surprisingly of all is that director Nick Cassavetes (he of The Notebook infamy) nearly comes out of this looking good in what is essentially a remake of The First Wives Club (1996) but with just one villainous philanderer for the beleaguered females to gang up against.

New York career gal Carly (Cameron Diaz) is enjoying a relationship with high-flying Mark (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) that seems too good to be true. Sure enough, it is, as she discovers when she meets Mark's wife Kate (Leslie Mann). Her resentment of Kate turns to friendship and the pair decide to run about the place, following him and mucking up his plans. Their zeal shifts up a gear when they discover Mark's latest extracurricular conquest, Amber (swimwear model turned actress Kate Upton) who they adopt into their vengeful coven.

What begins as quite a sophisticated outing – some interesting relationship politics and decent physical comedy turns by Mann – goes downhill after an hour into the type of generic, flapping improv that made Judd Apatow a rich man.

No one particularly lets the side down cast wise, and Upton is a great sport about playing the airheaded beach babe, but it gets lazy in its final throes, preferring predictability, slapstick and mawkish "girl-power" cheese as it rides roughshod over women's lib.

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