THE OTHER WOMAN (2014)
Director: Nick Cassavetes
Cast: Cameron Diaz, Leslie Mann, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Kate Upton, Taylor Kinney, Don Johnson, Nicki Minaj
MPAA Rating: (for mature thematic material, sexual references and language)
Running Time: 1:49
Release Date: 4/25/14
Review by Mark Dujsik | April 24, 2014
The Other Woman does not completely insult the female sex, but that's not for a lack of trying. The movie's protagonists are three unfortunate gender stereotypes, gracelessly cobbled together without lick of depth or nuance beyond how they can further be turned into fools. Everything that happens here is about scraping away what little dignity these characters have at the start.
There's the career professional, who enjoys and is successful at her job without any apologies. We might remember a time when such a lifestyle was a goal—an ideal to which to strive. Here, though, it's just the opportunity to have Carly's (Cameron Diaz) life flip upside-down when she meets the man of her dreams and discovers he's a serial two-timer. She was never concerned with romantic entanglements (There's a throwaway exchange about men she has been casually dating without any expectations for long-term commitment), but this one guy—an undeniable scumbag—is enough to transform her into a bitter spinster who decries monogamy and believes every relationship is destined to fall apart. Hey, though, she only needs to meet the Right Guy to have her mind changed.
There's the blonde bombshell who is invariably ditzy. When she tries to keep the man who has been cheating on her—the same guy who has been cheating on all three women with each other and other women—she simply tells him she has an STD. Amber (Kate Upton) doesn't even know through which end of a pair of binoculars one is supposed to look.
Finally, there's the jerk's doting wife. Our first impression of her has nothing to do with the kind of person she is but with how her husband reacts to her. She talks about this and that, and Mark (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) just nods and grunts in half-listening boredom. It's appropriate that Kate's (Leslie Mann, who plays the role with such enthusiasm that her performance is not only the movie's strongest element but also emblematic of its problematic—and that's being generous—attitude toward women) first appearance is centered on her husband, because everything about her as a character is dictated by him.
That's also true of the other characters. We first see the other two characters with Mark. Carly is at the end of a date with him in her bedroom, and it's followed by a montage of the two doing happy-couple activities in slow motion. Amber is on the beach with him in the Hamptons when Kate and Carly, who have teamed up to uncover just how far Mark's philandering ways go, first spot her. That leads to Carly—who, until this point, has protested how little she cares about him or his actions—to chase after the bikini-clad woman. The look on her face—also captured in slow motion—has the likeness of a rabid dog looking to kill.
It's only slightly more dignified than the way Kate reacts to learning that her husband has been sleeping with Carly. She confronts Carly at her law firm and proceeds to have a "panic attack" that more closely resembles a complete nervous breakdown. With an incredibly off-putting sense of glee, the entire first act of the movie watches Kate sink further and further into indignity, whether she's drunkenly trying to avoid being pushed into a car by planting her feet alongside the door or repeatedly yelling about personal matters in public places while various people in the background look on with faces filled with shock, joy, or disgust.
Eventually, the three women, unable to move past the man in their lives, join forces to get revenge on him. Kate pours estrogen into Mark's morning drink. Carly dumps a laxative into his water while they're out to dinner.
The late reversal of humiliation in Melissa K. Stack's screenplay does little to assuage the abundance of embarrassment inflicted upon the women. Mark may start to grow breasts, have an issue with explosive diarrhea (That's not the only bit of random toilet humor here, either; there's also a scene where a dog squats down and does its business on the floor of Carly's apartment), or have problems with glass walls (which lead to one really unnecessarily gruesome shot), but those are entirely situational sorts of shame. The women of The Other Woman have a more engrained kind of shame—the sort, the movie quite despicably suggests, that comes from being a woman.
Copyright © 2014 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.
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