The Women (2008) Recap

Jamie

When her perfect world seems to crumble all at once with the loss of her job, husband, and best friend, Mary Haines has to figure out what it means to be her (what it means to be a woman?) to help put back the pieces. Can she do it before it’s too late? Find out in… The Women.

How?! Mary Haines has the seemingly perfect life. A good job working in fashion for her father, a super successful husband, a wonderful daughter, and a group of supportive best friends. But when this all goes down the tubes with the discovery of her husband’s infidelity with a curvaceous aspiring actress and the loss of her job, she finds herself lost in the woods. Wallowing in self-pity and undecided on how to proceed in her once happy marriage, she eventually discovers that maybe she needs to figure out what she wants out of life before any of these things can be fixed. She starts a new company, rediscovers the meaning of being a mother and best friend, and finds happiness. Only then can she attempt to fix what had fallen apart with her husband. This very simple and straightforward story is of course told over two hours, which seems impossible. Oh and not a single male actor is seen or heard from in the entirety of the film… which is bonkers and actually pretty deftly done.   

Why?! Interesting question. Mary’s motivation throughout the film is her struggle to decide what to do about her husband’s infidelity. She starts out trying to ignore it (the advice given to her by several older women in the film), then she kinda gives up on everything, and finally on the advice of a (randomly and conveniently placed) successful independent women she starts her own company and sets out on her own. In this she realizes that the underlying reason for her husband’s infidelity may not totally be his fault. By not really knowing who she was herself, and thus not being able to give all of herself over to her husband, how could they have built a truly successful marriage? And so she is able to make a decision in the end: give it a shot with him and if he can love her true self then perhaps they can find true happiness in a second chance.

What?! We are on a role in terms of major product placements. This film is a walking advertisement for Saks Fifth Avenue. Almost the entire first half of the film takes place in the store. This all hits a crescendo when a character leans and very seriously tells a child that “no one hates Saks.” Gotta say, that line itself got me mighty close to hating Saks. The film is also heavily sponsored by Dove. We get some noticeably placed hand creams throughout along with a postcredits advertisement for a short film “The Women Behind The Women” which was part of Dove’s Real Beauty campaign.

Who?! While we’ve been on a role in terms of major product placements, I can’t even remember the last Planchet we’ve had. Doesn’t change here. Do want to point out that Mick Jagger apparently was a producer on this film, which seems weird. It’s only made weirder that IMDb also claims he’s a producer on a 2004 short film titled The Women… alright Mick. We get it.

Where?! This is basically as close to being an A+ film without having the title be The New York City Women or like, I don’t know, Sex and the City or something. It’s all about Saks Fifth Avenue and as such is all about living it up in the cit-ay. A.

When?! All times forever really. The story jump from summer to fall to Halloween (which plays an unexpectedly large role in the plot) and finished on Xmas. I hesitate to say that it’s a Secret Holiday Film Alert because this film kinda flows through time as if time is not a concept that it understands, but it’s still pretty solid. B.

Will I do it? Can I say it?… This film is just not that bad (It’s not that bad! It’s not that bad!). I think it suffered through some rough directing by a novice filmmaker that they unfortunately tried to patch over with some weird choices in post, but this film had something to say and had interesting people saying it. It occasionally got lost in some extracurricular screwball elements (looking at you random birth scene at the end), but I did not mind this film and I thought it did a nice job telling a story of the complications of love and marriage in the age of successful women. Here’s hoping our next film is similarly good. Let’s see, that would be… Marmaduke… … … alright. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Bust out that gallon jug of white wine, time for Patrick and Jamie to have a girls night in. With nary a man to be seen, we’re dishing on life, love, work, and play. Ain’t nothing going to stop us from travelling with Meg Ryan and the gang as they teach us what it really means to be …  The Women! Let’s go!

The Good (Sklognalogy) – The first hour or so of this film, I thought, was quite good. I liked all of the characters, I liked the story they were going after: when infidelity strikes a perfect (upper-class …) life, what is the expectations of a modern woman? The film gets lost in the middle, but the conceit of not once showing a male (non-newborn-baby) character works super well in the context of this film. I’m pretty shocked with how this film was treated by the critics, and I can now totally understand Ebert’s review where he gave it three stars. This is a 2.5 / 4 film, just not that bad (it’s not that bad! Except for the whole part in the middle where it was). A natural Sklognalogy is the other ensemble piece that came out that year: Sex and the City. One could forget that the original actually got okay reviews and the show that preceded it was at the time cutting edge. This is more familiar and comfortable than that, but I think both illustrate where we were at with movies directed towards women at this point in time.

The Bad (Sklog-cabulary Quiz) The film has a sequence that appears to take place over the span of several months where Meg Ryan is going to like a canoeing retreat, and her daughter is dressing up … all of that doesn’t work. The film gets seriously lost in the woods after they blow up the question of how the modern family woman is expected to act in the face of infidelity, an interesting question in the context of a film being a remake of a film/play from the early 20th century. There is also something fascinating about romantic comedies where they almost need to function in a world where monetary problems don’t exist. All of the characters in this film are fabulously wealthy. Thus all of the problems focus solely on their relationships. I’m going to try my best to fashion Sklog-cabulary Quiz about this:

Ab Initio Genre (n.) – A genre reduced to first principles, stripping out all characteristics that distract you from the purpose or function the genre serves

I wouldn’t be surprised if this is a real thing, but it is like how you can have a comedy where the focus is really only on the jokes (not even concerned with making sense), or an action film where the action itself is the focus, no romantic lead, no comedy. Hard Sci-Fi csan fall into the category as well. The Ab Initio Romance film takes every other problem out of the film: no money problems, no personal crises, all relationship, all the time. And for romance the ab initio approach seems quite popular … we’ve seen like three “upper-class Manhattanites falling in love” romance films in the last year. It is pretty amusing. They might as well be called Rich People Problems.

The BMT (Legacy / StreetCreditReport.com) – I don’t think this film is much of anything as far as bad movies go (perhaps something with the large female cast? The issue is it really isn’t that bad!). It could make an appearance in the beginning of 2019 if I remember that I actually liked the film for the Smaddies Baddies film that wasn’t that bad award. Considering how strong of a bad movie year 2008 it isn’t a terrible surprise there isn’t much as far as StreetCreditReport.com, although it did get a small mention in this Vulture poll. The first Sex and the City film came out the same year as The Women which is pretty bizarre.

I ain’t reading a play, and I’ve been too busy to watch the original The Women from the 30s (the films from that era are always like two and a half hours long). I know I’m failing you guys in the adaptations cycle. I promise to be better as the year goes on. I promise. Cheerios,

The Sklogs

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