The Other Woman (2009)

*A review was not posted for #21 — it was the short film “Fancy Curves,” which I posted a video of on this blog!

Watched January 20, 2012

The Other Woman (2009): 2/5
I chose this film on a whim while picking up FernGully from Redbox. It’s one of those films that I read a bit about when it was being released and thought “Okay, I might see this” but ended up neglecting in favor of other films. And honestly, I wasn’t missing much by skipping it in 2009! The majority of the film was very, very flat. It deals with some of the most heart-wrenching scenarios that humans deal with, such as losing a newborn child, but it is bland despite the material’s potential for high emotion. Since I’ve never dealt with any of the central issues myself, I found it hard to form a personal connection to any of the characters or to the film as a whole. However, my lack of commonality with characters has never stopped me from enjoying a film before. I felt very much drawn into the world of Girl, Interrupted (1999) very much despite the fact that I am not and have never been a 1960s mental patient.

Natalie Portman in The Other Woman, via vogue.com

Aside from my own lack of connection with the film’s plot, I found a number of other problems here. It was nearly impossible to become invested in the relationship between Emilia (Natalie Portman) and Jack (Scott Cohen). Jack, in my opinion, had no redeeming qualities whatsoever. He was an unsympathetic, usually absent and semi-controlling husband. Why was Emilia attracted to him at all, much less enough to marry him? Top that off with the fact that very little chemistry exists between Portman and Cohen, and you’ve got a completely dull screen relationship on your hands. In addition, the plot was generally predictable. There were a few small surprises thrown in, but nothing terribly ground-breaking or shocking. Nothing surprising enough to throw a jolt of much-needed energy into this film.
There are a few redeeming qualities. Charlie Tahan and Lisa Kudrow give very solid performances as a disgruntled young step-son and his overbearing mother. I’m now even further convinced of Kudrow’s underrated-ness. I love  Friends as much as the next guy, but she can play more than Phoebe Buffay, people! The film is also pretty well shot, with nice use of an often symbolic color scheme.  For those reasons, I’ve given it two stars (one for each redeeming quality – I’m generous!), but overall it’s just plain dismal.

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