Sunday, November 19, 2023

The Other Woman

Movie Name:
The Other Woman
Year of Release: 2014
Director: Nick Cassavetes
Starring: Cameron Diaz, Leslie Mann, Kate Upton, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Don Johnson, Taylor Kinney, Nicki Minaj, Victor Cruz
Genre: Comedy, Romance
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 2
Watch it on Amazon

Synopsis and Review
Actor/writer/producer/director Nick Cassavetes started his directorial career in the 90s with a series of well liked and well received films, which included "Unhook the Stars" (featuring his mother, the stupendous Gena Rowlands), and "She's So Lovely" (in which Sean Penn actually won the best actor award at the Cannes Film Festival of 1997). "The Other Woman" is definitely more of a mainstream comedy, which coincidentally marked what started as period of directorial inactivity for him (which he has resume in 2023 with the poorly received "God is a Bullet"). "The Other Woman" focuses its narrative on two women, one by the name of Carly Whitten, a successful lawyer who has a strong personality and is unapologetic about pursuing her desires and passions. The other central part of the narrative is Kate King, a housewife whose life is fairly serene though she feels a bit under-challenged. Her husband is a very successful entrepeneur/businessman, who also relies on her savviness and abilities for brainstorming to come up with interesting business venture ideas. Carly has been dating the dashing Mark for a few months, and is ready to take the next step and introduce him to her father, only for him to cancel at the last minute due to a home emergency. When she decides to surprise him at his place, she discovers that the house is actually inhabited by Kate, Mark's wife. While Carly decides to move on from the whole situation, Kate on the other hand is completely devastated, and seeks Carly to get more information on what has been going on. While Carly is initially aghast towards Kate's reactions, she eventually decides to help her out. They soon realize Mark has another woman on the side he's been involved with. Amber, the other focus of Mark's affections, is also unaware of Carly and Kate's existence and the tribulations they've been through as a result. They decide to unite forces and get back at Mark for all the deceiving and illegalities they soon find out he's been up to (which includes embezzling money under Kate's name). 
While this film was originally conceived as an updated take on Hugh Wilson's "The First Wives Club", sadly and notwithstanding Nick Cassavetes' talent, the result is a film that lacks the chemistry, humor or even some of the darkness that made "The First Wives Club" work and resonate as it did (the fact that Hugh Wilson's film starts with a suicide, and how it then proceeds to discuss matters of ageism, and relationship dynamics is still surprising, all wrapped in a somewhat innocuous film comedy). "The Other Woman" places Leslie Mann's character as the clownish character, the one who burdens the awkwardness of being the one being deceived and oblivious to her own husband's lack of character or principles. It's a rather poorly conceived role, one that is meant to come across as ditzy and funny (she even has a dog the size of a horse as a pet, so she can be dragged around by it, hence the lack of authority stemming from her), but instead is borderline offensive and patronizing. Kudos to Leslie Mann and her ability to bring humor and humanity in these underwritten roles she sometimes finds herself in. The film tries to create this semblance of unity and camaraderie between these women, since they obviously have nothing better to do in their lives, other than to get back at the low-life who deceived all of them. The situations are fairly trite, the characters barely have any dimension to them or exist beyond the clich├ęs they're meant to embody (Kate Upton's Amber has no career, no particular motivations in life, aside from looking good on camera in a bikini). What is actually left is the cast who really tries their best to make these characters and situations passable, with highlights going to Leslie Mann, Cameron Diaz and Don Johnson, all talented performers with immense charisma who make this endeavor watchable. The cinematography from the fantastic Robert Fraisse is impeccable (he always worked with director Jean-Jacques Annaud, including "The Lover/L'Amant" and "Seven Years in Tibet"), as is the production design from Dan Davis and costumes from Paolo Nieddu. It's a polished and well executed film, just a poorly written one and lacking a point of view or sense of humor. A missed opportunity.