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The Women

A movie directed by Diane English

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"Don't be bitter. It leads to Botox."

  • Sep 7, 2009
Sure, women can have it all these days. But the question posed by Diane English in her 2008 update on THE WOMEN is: do they really want it all?

If anyone was going to create a modern-day spin on Clare Boothe Luce's catty 1930's Broadway play, THE WOMEN (made famous in the 1939 MGM movie starring Norma Shearer and Joan Crawford), it was "Murphy Brown" scribe Diane English. While time has rolled on, the problems concerning women certainly haven't.

When down-to-earth Mary Haines (Meg Ryan) discovers that her husband has taken on a seductive perfume counter clerk named Crystal Allen (Eva Mendes) as his mistress, she paints her nails jungle-red and reinvents herself as a boutique fashion designer - but not without some support from her faithful gal-pals including magazine editor Sylvie (Annette Bening), "serial mother" Edie (Debra Messing) and outspoken lesbian author Alex (Jada Pinkett Smith).

As in the original, no man ever appears on screen, and Ms English has wisely retained many of the best lines from the source material (there's also a clever black-and-white twist on the original's Technicolor fashion show sequence!) . While a lot of what English newly creates for the remake might seem fresh and cutting edge - ie: Mary's eleven-year-old daughter (India Ennenga) who starts smoking to suppress her appetite - I think she's tried too hard to cram in as many modern elements as possible, making the film seem overstuffed with information. The crux of the story remains Mary's reinvention, and Meg Ryan portrays that nicely. And I appreciate the fact that, unlike the original in which we see Norma Shearer (as Mary) tearfully running back into her husband's arms; the question of whether Mary will in fact return to her marriage is left up to the audience.

Fantastic performances all-round, particularly from Messing, Bening and Pinkett Smith as the main trio; Cloris Leachman is the Haines housekeeper and has some great scenes, and no Diane English film would be complete without "Murphy Brown" herself, Candice Bergen, who plays Mary's mother. Bette Midler has an all-too-brief bit as a burnt-out, multiple-divorced Hollywood agent. There are also appearances from Joanna Gleason, Carrie Fisher and Ana Gasteyer.

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More The Women reviews
Quick Tip by . June 20, 2011
Entirely unlike Luce's classic play and its lovely 1939 cinema adaptation, this trashy disaster is a fine indicator of what humorless, insecure, middle-aged American women regard as comedy. Every tawdry character is horribly overacted by a cast of famous, overrated non-talents. Its score is corny, its dialogue asinine.
review by . April 15, 2009
"Don't be bitter. It leads to Botox."     Short Attention Span Summary (SASS):     1. Count the stars - Meg Ryan (Mary), Annette Bening (Mary's best friend Sylvia), Debra Messing (Mary's permanently pregnant friend Edie), Jada Pinkett-Smith (Mary's gay writer pal Alex), Candice Bergen (Mary's Mom), Bette Midler, Carrie Fisher, Cloris Leachman, Debi Mazar, and (ta-dah) Eva Mendes as "the spritzer girl" Crystal.   2. All star cast proves that too many …
review by . December 22, 2008
The Women
The star power alone is reason enough to view this film, a remake of the 1939 original, written and directed by Diane English. In this 21st century version, a group of four women, each a well-defined individual (although perhaps a bit stereotypical) reacts to and face the topic of betrayal.   Meg Ryan, Mary, is a Connecticut housewife and philanthropist, raising a child with the help of a live-in nanny and housekeeper (Cloris Leachman). Mary learns her high-profile husband is having an …
About the reviewer
Byron Kolln ()
Ranked #145
Byron has been actively involved in theatre since the age of 12. He has had a great variety of roles (both on-stage and off). In addition he has hosted the long-running "Show Business" programme … more
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For fans of some of America's finest actresses, seeing a film with even one of the cast members ofThe Womenwould be a treat. But this remake of George Cukor's famed girl-trouble ensemble film features Meg Ryan, Annette Bening, Jada Pinkett Smith, Eva Mendes, Debra Messing, Cloris Leachman, Bette Midler, Carrie Fisher, Joanna Gleason, and Candice Bergen--whew!--making it a film that fans of these terrifically talented women can savor. The remake may not have the cat-itude or camp factor of the original, but so what? The cast's chemistry really shines; friendship is thicker than water, it turns out--even stronger than the ties that bind women to their men. Ryan is the good-girl Mary Haines, whose husband, she and her friends learn, is cheating on her with the stunning femme fatale Crystal (Mendes, in the Joan Crawford role)--"a spritzer" at the perfume counter.Quelle horreur!The other women rally around the hapless Mary, staging interventions, offering snappy advice, and plotting battles on behalf of their friend. But it turns out that Ryan's Mary isn't quite as fragile as she seems. Gimlets and girl talk--lots of both--go a long way toward getting our heroine through her crisis, and onto a new stage in her life that surprises her husband and more than one of her pals. And the laughs by the appearances of Midler and Bergen, especially, are worth watching the whole film for. --A.T. Hurley
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Director: Diane English
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Release Date: 12 September 2008 (USA)
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 114 min
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"Friendships Between Women"
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