By William Wolf

THE WOMEN  Send This Review to a Friend

Remakes of films that made their mark are generally not a great idea, and the remake of the 1930s favorite “The Women” loses the bite and charm of original that was based on the Clare Boothe Luce play with a screenplay by Anita Loos and Jane Murfin, and with George Cukor directing stylishly. The updated version, its reasonably good cast notwithstanding, comes across as a pale imitation of “Sex and the City,” and even mentioning them in the same breath does an injustice to “Sex in and the City.”

The new movie written and directed by Diane English is crass instead of witty, and one is hard-pressed to find any emotion in the hodgepodge. The plot is basically the same, with Meg Ryan as Mary Haines, who learns of her husband’s affair through beauty parlor gossip. As in the earlier film, we never get to meet the cheating husband. We do meet Crystal, the Saks perfume counter employee with whom hubby is sleeping. Eva Mendes plays her so outrageously over the top that she would not be likely to last very long at Saks. The store should recoil at the portrayal, but I suppose that Saks may find it acceptable merely to be the center of all that attention.

Mary’s friends are eager for her to confront her husband, a move Candice Bergen as her wise mother advises against. Annette Bening as a friend who is fighting to hold onto her magazine editorship gives the movie some class and succeeds somewhat in creating at least some feeling when she betrays Mary to a gossip columnist (Carrie Fisher). Cloris Leachman makes the most out of her character role as Mary’s housekeeper. Bette Midler turns up for a showy but thankless role involving the dispensing of further advice. Others in the case include Debra Messing, Jada Pinkett Smith, Debi Mazar and Tilly Scott Pedersen.

Despite their aspirations, the cast members are trapped in an inferior film that allows them to only occasionally rise above the material. Visually—credit director of photography Anastas Michos—“The Women” looks classy, but that only emphasizes the weakness of nearly everything else. A Picturehouse release.


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