Title: The Other Woman

Director: Don Roos

Stars: Natalie Portman, Lisa Kudrow and Lauren Ambrose

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While Natalie Portman plays Emilia Greenleaf, “The other woman” in the upcoming film adaptation of author Ayelet Waldman’s 2006 novel Love and Other Impossible Pursuits, Emilia will also be remembered as the Academy Award-nominated actress’ “other character” this season. After appearing as ballerina Nina Sayers in this winter’s hit Oscar-nominated movie ‘Black Swan,’ Portman is once again portraying a character overcome with emotion in ‘The Other Woman.’ However, despite her best efforts, Portman fails to deliver another passionate and intense performance.

‘The Other Woman’ tries to take a humorous, sarcastic and dramatic look into the devastating world of dealing with the grief of losing a loved one. Don Roos, who both wrote and directed ‘The Other Woman,’ deserves credit for his attempt to showcase such a serious subject in an unconventional way. However, his final effort did not totally live up to the movie’s studio, IFC Films, description of the plot as frank, funny and heart-wrenching.

Audiences will surely sympathize with Emilia (played by Portman), who’s struggling to find a balance in her life. She’s trying to figure out how to deal with the death of her newborn daughter, her deteriorating marriage to her husband Jack Wolf (portrayed by Scott Cohen), her hostile relationship with her stepson William (portrayed by Charlie Tahan) and the rift in her relationship with her father, due to his cheating on her mother. With all of this, Emilia must also deal with Jack’s jealous ex-wife Carolyn (played by Lisa Kudrow), who doesn’t like how she treats William. Carolyn is also still upset Jack had an affair with Emila, got her pregnant and married her.

While writing the script, Roos definitely had good intentions, as he wanted to showcase what happens to a family behind closed doors as they struggle with their problems with each other. While movies detailing influential men leaving their families for a woman working in their company is clichéd, the after effects and problems of their new marriages are rarely shown. With Emilia and Jack’s union, Roos wanted to prove that not all relationships that arise from work affairs are stable.

While that simple message is clearly stated, it’s not totally believable, as Portman and Cohen don’t have a strong romantic bond together. While in flashbacks Roos shows Emilia lusting after Jack after she begins working at his law firm, the two actors don’t have a believable enough connection together to carry the entire film. While the two were credible enough in their roles, If Roos truly wanted to make a realistic movie about the decline of a marriage, he should have cast two actors with a more intimate bond.

Also miscast actress was Kudrow as Carolyn, as she has risen to fame portraying quirky characters in various comedies, including her hit television series ‘Friends’ and her popular films ‘Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion,’ ‘Analyze This’ and ‘Easy A.’ While normally a terrific actress, Kudrow doesn’t have any connection to Carolyn, and further proves why she’s found success in more light-hearted roles. Whether stressing over William’s schooling or what kind of influence Emilia has over him, Kudrow just seems to be rehashing her lines, and doesn’t seem to agree with her character’s attitude.

The best relationship in the film was undeniably between Emilia and William, as Tahan genuinely expressed an uneasiness around Portman. He made William seem as though he cared about Emilia, but didn’t want to admit it because even at his young age, he still perceives Emilia as the reason why his parents got divorced.  Portman also made Emilia seem as though she wanted to care for William, but was emotionally able to because of her continued devastation over losing her daughter. The two actors had a believable weariness towards each other while struggling with their admiration for each other.

While Roos started off with a creative idea of showcasing what happens after a powerful man abandons his family for the woman he’s having an affair with, and the pain and grief they’re experiencing over the loss of their child, ‘The Other Woman’ fails to distinguish itself amongst his other films. The unoriginal characters, particularly Emilia and Carolyn, also fail to add anything to the actors’ careers. IFC Films made the right decision in not releasing the movie until now, after the release of ‘Black Swan.’ While Portman had a believable relationship with Tahan in ‘The Other Woman,’ her role in the comedy-drama is nowhere near as memorable as her portrayal of ballerina Nina Sayers in the psychological thriller.

Written by: Karen Benardello

The Other Woman Review
The Other Woman Review

By Karen Benardello

As a graduate of LIU Post with a B.F.A in Journalism, Print and Electronic, Karen Benardello serves as ShockYa's Senior Movies & Television Editor. Her duties include interviewing filmmakers and musicians, and scribing movie, television and music reviews and news articles. As a New York City-area based journalist, she's a member of the guilds, New York Film Critics Online and the Women Film Critics Circle.

One thought on “The Other Woman Movie Review”
  1. Never heard this being expresses as a comedy before. Lisa's over the top performance as a control freak was extreme enough to make you want to laugh for release. She did a great job! I'd have to agree also that the relationship between Emilia and Jack seemed more a lustful fling that turn marriage, than a strong emotional bond. Interestingly unlike what was portrayed as Roos's intent to show a good relationship gone bad, I had read quite the opposite in all other prior descriptions. My original understanding of the intent was to show the difficulty dealing with the nuances surrounding getting what you think you desire. In this case establishing a relationship with a step son, while being haunted by guilt of breaking a home. It turns out emilia's dilemmas are far deeper than the initial obvious ones. There are times in this movie where Emilia is being torn emotionally in many directions, and Natalie did a superb job of their simultaneous expression. I'd say far better than I've ever seen from a actress before.

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