Emilia is a 22 year old Harvard Lawyer who falls in love with her boss, Jack Woolf. Unfortunately Jack is married, but it is not long before the attraction turns into an affair that results in Emelia’s pregnancy. Jack then divorces his wife and marries Emilia. Tragedy strikes when Emilia’s baby, only three days old, dies from SIDS. Dealing with the death of her baby, the challenges stemming from her 12 year-old stepson William and a furious ex-wife Emilia begins to struggle to keep her life and marriage together.
The Other Woman’s largest flaw is that the story is told from the wrong perspective. The filmmakers try to manipulate the audience into having empathy for the character of Emilia portrayed by Natalie Portman. Despite their best efforts I found myself loathing her character. Sure, I feel bad for anyone who loses a child, but it does not excuse almost every other bad -- and at times downright mean -- behavior. If that was not bad enough, almost every adult character in the film is deeply flawed in a very despicable way. This is not restricted to just cheating on spouses, but their treatment of family and friends makes one wonder how people like that even have friends or family. I thought at least Carolyne Woolf, played by Lisa Kudrow, who was a victim of her cheating husband could be a sympathetic character, but the movie portrays her to be especially mean and vicious not only to her ex and his new wife but to her own son William.
The character of William, the 12 year-old son who is caught in the middle of these wicked adults, is the character most people will connect to. He is not without faults, but for a kid who has seen his life explode and have every adult in his life treat him like garbage, he seems to handle things well. This is the perspective the film should have been told from to have a lasting impression. As it stands are forced by the filmmakers to invest in the home wrecking, mean spirited, selfish, reckless, cold and hypocritical character of Emilia. And perhaps following William's character may have paid off if we saw a meaningful character arch. That didn’t happen though.
What may have affected my opinion of the movie as well is Natalie Portman’s performance. With Black Swan, Natalie Portman received widespread praise for the strength of her acting. I am not among those who sing her praises. While she gave several brilliant performances as a child actor -- my favorite is her role in The Professional -- I have yet to see her turn in a great performance as an adult. Her performances seem flat and emotionless to me. She does try and is able to turn on the water works in the right places, but I just wasn’t moved by her performance of Emilia. It just felt rehearsed and mechanical to me.
The drama of The Other Woman might be enough to keep you interested until the end of the movie but the film fails on the message it wanted to send. It’s clear the filmmakers want you to root for Emilia and Jack to stay together. I just found myself hoping for a way out for William with little concern for any of the adult characters in the film. It’s a sad fact that many children get stuck paying the price for their parents' mistakes. With that in mind, the film sends an honest message of why adults should think twice about their actions, but I don’t think that message was sent on purpose.
People looking for a romantic comedy, or something that has some form of romance in it, should not look in this film’s direction. For those seeking a brooding drama, that is absent of any comedy or romance, then you might appreciate The Other Woman.
FILMS LIKE THE OTHER WOMAN – Little Children, Bridges over Madison County and The End of the Affair
Click here to buy the film directly from Amazon.com.
Justin Buettner is Style's resident movie dude! How did he get this role? Well, he graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a Bachelor of Arts in film Production and a duel minor in Animation and Business with an emphasis in the entertainment field. He later went on to work on several independent films in various key roles including writer and later worked in the special effects field as a motion capture artist. He has since relocated to the Sacramento area with his family and continues writing for small independent films in addition to his movie reviews for Style Magazine.
Want more? Check out the Flicks with Style Facebook Page!