out of Five
Running time: 114
Poorly directed, patchily written and ultimately disappointing remake that nonetheless remains watchable thanks to some superb performances.
What's it all about?
Based on the classic 1939 film by George Cukor (and Clare Boothe Luce's original 1936 stage play), The Women stars Meg Ryan as Mary Haines, a Manhattan wife and mother who discovers that her Wall Street hot shot husband (who, like all the men mentioned in the film, we never actually see) is cheating on her with gold-digging Saks "spritzer girl" Crystal Allen (Eva Mendes). Mary's three best friends – including magazine editor Sylvie (Annette Bening), earth mother Edie (Debra Messing) and lesbian author Alex (Jada Pinkett-Smith) – rally round with conflicting advice, but Mary's problems get a whole lot worse when Sylvie sells her out in order to keep her job.
The film's central gimmick of having no men on screen throughout the entire film works well, even if it does occasionally feel like a Twilight Zone episode. However, the main reason to see the film is Meg Ryan, who delivers a performance that reminds us of why we fell in love with her in the first place, particularly during the film's comic highlight where she binge-eats a stick of butter dipped in chocolate powder.
Annette Bening is equally good as Sylvie; indeed, the film's main change from the original is to make Mary and Sylvie's friendship the most important relationship in the film. There's also strong support from Eva Mendes and colourful cameos from Carrie Fisher and Bette Midler, while Candice Bergen steals all the best lines as Mary's mother.
The main problem is that the script isn't nearly as funny as it should have been and writer-director Diane English fails to inject the film with the screwball energy it desperately needs. The film also badly sidelines Messing and Pinkett-Smith, both of whom are saddled with one-dimensional characters.
As female ensemble movies go, The Women is no Sex and the City, but it remains watchable thanks to strong performances from Meg Ryan, Annette Bening and Candice Bergen.