The Women (2008)

The best advice about this film is first to see the original, 1939 version.  What a year for cinema that was -  Gone with the Wind, The Wizard of Oz, Goodbye Mr Chips, Wuthering Heights, Stagecoach, Ninotchka, Mr Smith Goes to Washington, Of Mice and Men, Dark Victory, Love Affair... I could go on!

If you see the 1939 version you'll see Joan Crawford instead of Eva Mendes, Rosalind Russell instead of Annette Bening, Norma Shearer instead of Meg Ryan (well, maybe that's line-ball), Phyllis Povah instead of Debra Messing, and Virginia Gray instead of Debi Mazar.  Only the last one is  unarguably superior. Debi Mazar nearly steals the newer film as the manicurist who sets everything in motion. 

There are far fewer main characters in the newer film. There are a few laughs, some laugh-out loud.  There are some very good one-liners, but there's something missing.  I think the whole premise doesn't work for the remake. Here's a bit of dialogue that might explain why.

One of the first things in the 2008 movie is a line Sylvie (Annette Bening) says. In the orginla film it is a killer - it would have been truly shocking. In 2008 it had to be said to a dog.  "There's a word for a woman like that, but it's raraely used outside a kennel".  The writer couldn't resist using the line, but had to have Sylvie preface it by saying "OK puppy".  Puh-lease!

The original play - and film - was partly a skewering of the uppwer classes of NYC society - the "ladies who lunch" etc.  It's different today, so the 2008 film had to include a lesbian character and a teenaged girl with image problems.  In fact, that latter is the part of the updating that works quite well and adds a bit of poignancy.

But what bothers me is the theme of the film that it might be bad enough that your husband betrays you, but it is much worse if one of your girlfriends does.  Wow!  That's not a concept I can embrace.

Rather than The Women 2008, if you want a comtemporary reatent of the relationships of women, and infidelity in marriage, see Caramel, also reviewed by me.