Dr. T and the Women (12)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner16/08/2001

Two stars out of five
Running time: 121 mins

Disappointing Robert Altman film that’s largely unworthy of its talented cast – it suffers from a lack of plot and a poor script that wobbles uncertainly between comedy and drama.

Altman’s best films are a perfect combination of black humour, satire and human observation. Here, however, his target seems too easy – not women in general, but middle-class Dallas women - all blonde and flashily over-dressed with seemingly nothing better to do than shop and fawn over their drop-dead-gorgeous gynaecologist (Richard Gere).

The opening scene combines two of Altman’s trademarks and sets the tone perfectly, as a long tracking shot leads us through Gere’s office while a gaggle of women talk over each other as they vie for the attention of Gere’s long-suffering receptionist Shelley Long.

The actual plot is both overloaded and very flimsy. Gere’s wife (Farrah Fawcett) cracks up while out shopping and ends up stripping naked and dancing in a mall fountain.

She is diagnosed as suffering from the "Hestia Complex" (apparently brought on by being loved too much by Gere) and is institutionalised. Meanwhile, his alcoholic sister-in-law (Laura Dern) has moved in with her three kids.

One of his daughters (Kate Hudson) is getting married and his other daughter (Tara Reid) is both jealous of her and suspicious of her sister’s overly close friendship with her maid-of-honour (Liv Tyler, playing one of only two brunettes in the film).

Surrounded by the estrogen-fuelled madness at his clinic and with all this going on at home, it’s little wonder that he finds himself attracted to golfing pro Bree (Helen Hunt), who seems altogether more relaxed.

One of the problems with the film is that there are too many characters and yet none of the stories really goes anywhere. Similarly, the script seems uncertain as to whether the film is primarily a comedy or a drama, so on the one hand we get Shelley Long’s comic over-acting and on the other we get the "serious" relationship between Gere and Hunt.

To be fair, it’s very well-acted. Gere, in particular, remains sympathetic despite his misguided naivety (he idolises all women, believing them sacred) and the fact that he commits adultery so soon after his wife (whom he supposedly worshipped) is put away.

Of the women, American Pie’s Tara Reid stands out but this may be because she has the most interesting character – her tour of the infamous Grassy Knoll is a highlight.

There’s also a good cameo from Janine Turner and Hunt’s ‘nice-girl’ persona is given an interesting twist. Also, if you like that sort of thing, you do get to see Kate Hudson and Liv Tyler kiss, so it’s not as if the film is entirely without redeeming qualities!

In general, though, given the calibre of the director and the impressive cast, this is something of a disappointment and you won’t lose anything by waiting for the video.

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Content updated: 15/12/2017 12:08

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