Review: The Women (2008)

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The Women (2008)

Directed by: Diane English | 114 minutes | drama, comedy | Actors: Meg Ryan, Annette Bening, Eva Mendes, Debra Messing, Jada Pinkett Smith, Bette Midler, Candice Bergen, Carrie Fisher, Cloris Leachman, Debi Mazar, India Ennenga, Natasha Alam, Ana Gasteyer, Joanna Gleason, Tilly Scott Pedersen

There are more and more people in the world who are fed up with the Hollywood formulas. The American Way of Life, which Hollywood often propagates so enthusiastically, is therefore increasingly in the spotlight. According to Hollywood, the definition of success for an American is doing what you’re good at and getting very rich from it. Doing what you are good at and what you enjoy is fine, but why always that big, bigger and biggest success and why always want to be so rich? In the capitalist idea it is always about ‘your own skin’ and the rest, well, they will figure it out themselves. Success is therefore: doing your own thing and earning a lot of money with it, and for many especially the latter. Until about 40 years ago, this only applied to men, but nowadays it also applies to (American) women.

And then another movie is out in which a woman discovers that her husband is cheating on her because she is not ambitious enough. She and her husband turn out to be quite rich already (important condition for such stories, which otherwise according to Hollywood are not interesting for a large audience). A man who, by the way, is only mentioned, like all the men in the film; physically not a single man appears in ‘The Women’. A nice fact that to a certain extent could also have survived in a drama film, but is implemented here so consistently that it tends to be a comic gimmick. Still, it’s nice.

And who are those women? One has a top job and is successful, just not able to have a healthy relationship with a man anymore, a lesbian explains that living with a woman is so good because you can’t find stinky socks in the bathroom and you can turn off the lights during making love (she herself is always very tough and slumped, apparently very male), the housemother in the story can’t stop giving birth and if you don’t dress super sexy (read: whory), you are not attractive to a man. In addition, the film adheres to the statement that success means: only thinking about yourself. Hey! Is this the sad reality of today’s America, or is this what Hollywood would have us believe? Both very.

Technically, the film is not bad. Director Diane English, who wrote 37 episodes of the hit TV series “Murphy Brown”, has a sense of comedy and shows her directing skills here in her feature film debut. The actresses come out well, with Annette Bening as the pioneer, followed by Debra Messing, who steals the show in the childbirth scene. Candice Bergen, as Meg Ryan’s mother, is also firm, while Ryan herself is somewhat flat. Anyway, we’ve all seen it. In fact, ‘The Women’ is loosely a remake of the 1939 classic of the same name, when that film was shocking and hip. A man who just cheats!

‘The Women’ tries to portray modern women, but especially the lack of men makes the film hopelessly old-fashioned. Apparently these women only make it if there are no men left at all. The film is therefore intended for women. But apparently only for American women, because with most European women the pants (or the skirt, which is more modern?) will quickly fall off because of this story. And again, it’s not badly directed, certainly not for a debut film, but way too American and way too corny, or is that a synonym these days? No, for a real women’s film, watch something by Julio Medem or Pedro Almodóvar, in which women and men’s clichés simply don’t matter anymore. A truly ‘free’ woman does not need to keep the men out of her film at all, she is just herself, even with men.

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