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Women, The (2008) Print E-mail
Friday, 19 December 2008
Image"The Women" was originally done as a movie back in 1939.  And boy was it done much better.  The premise of the film is horrible at best, but we will go with it.  When they call the film "The Women," they really mean the women.  There is not a single male present in the entire film, background or foreground.  However, every woman in the film centers her entire life around men.  I'm not against the idea of this film, it is just poorly constructed and executed.  It is hard to imagine that it took 10 years of planning to remake this film.

It takes an eternity for the characters to develop, with the film spanning nearly two hours.  And in the end, the characters are just as myopic as they were in the beginning.  The directing is extremely dull, and even the beautiful and talented cast of the film could not pull it off.  What is even more depressing is that the cast seemed to not have their hearts in the film, which isn't surprising given the screenplay.

I absolutely adore Meg Ryan, and yet her character acting was all too similar to "When Harry Met Sally" meets "I.Q."  Annette Bening is normally always a shining star, and yet her she seemed to play a character that was haphazardly constructed from "American Beauty" and "Running with Scissors."  Eva Mendes is sadistic in her man stealing way, and was probably the best of the bunch.  Debra Messing was a mess.  She looked like she was channeling Lucille Ball and Raggedy Anne.  The brief cameos by Debi Mazar and Bette Midler were exceptional, but unfortunately, they were nothing more than really cameos.  Don't get me wrong.  I'm not saying that the film needed men.  In fact, it probably would have only made it worse.

Meg Ryan plays the lead character, Mary Haines, a women of comfort, with a daughter and a husband.  Unfortunately, her life starts to turn for the worse when her own father fires her as a fashion designer, when she thought that she was getting ready to take over the business.  Her best friend, Sylvie (Annette Bening) is a ruthless career woman, publisher of a fake magazine, equivalent to the real Vogue.  Through a string of coincidences, Mary learns that her husband has been having an affair with a Saks Fifth Avenue perfume sprtizer girl.  Of course, she is drop dead gorgeous.  Initially, Mary tries to ignore the affair, on the advice of her mother (Candice Bergen).  Mary's friends also knew about the affair, but didn't tell her, like absolutely wonderful friends. After a chance meeting with the home-wrecking perfume woman (Eva Mendes), Mary confronts her husband and kicks him out of the house and files for divorce.  Sylvie sells out her best friend to try and keep her career.  However, she interjects herself into the life of Mary's daughter, trying to help her cope with her parents' split.

What irks me the most about this film, and one of the top reasons why it got such a low score from me (and forgive me for any spoilers), is that there is no way for anyone to like Mary Haines.  I tried so much to like her and feel sorry for her.  But the character is just so dumb.  So she gets a divorce, like over 50 percent of the country, but she completely neglects her daughter, yet expects her daughter to tell her everything.  She neglects her, so-called friends.  She neglects herself.  And in the end, she takes the cheating jerk back.  I think I speak for particularly every woman out there when I say I wanted to slap Mary upside the head and say wake up.  He broke your heart, blames you for the affair, and continues the affair, and you take him back because he says he misses you.  Please!  Enough said.  Good try everyone, but the movie fails miserably.

For such a new film I was extremely disappointed in the video quality.  Warner presents us with a 1080p/VC-1 encode.  However, the image is dull beyond imagination (which fits quite nicely with the film).  The colors are lacking, especially in the scenery and fleshtones.  Meg Ryan normally has wonderful glow about her, but in this film she almost looked sickly.  There are some sequences with bursts of color, but not many.  The contrast runs hot in the midrange.  The black levels are all over the place, but never are they deep and rich.  The overall image is very flat, some of that due to the image transfer and some due to the ugly lighting of a high-rise city like New York.  The details are sharp, but still lack any real texture.  The image is just bland.

For some reason or another, Warner is not truly supporting the high-res audio formats.  We are only given a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track at 640 kbps.  In all fairness the soundtrack doesn't really warrant a high-resolution audio track.  Still, it would be nice.  The surround channels may as well have been absent.  Other than some minor music bleeding in the surround channels, there is absolutely nothing in the rears.  The dialogue is clean, but sometimes inaudible.  The film must be played at a high volume to hear every line of the dialogue clearly.  There are no real dynamics to speak of.  There is not much else to say about the audio track.  Not only is it a front heavy mix, it practically is in mono.

There is not much in the way of special features on the Blu-ray disc.  There are a couple of deleted scenes that don't offer much and are presented in standard definition.  "The Women: The Legacy" is an interview with director Diane English and contains comparisons to the original 1939 movie.  The only other supplement is a featurette, "The Women Behind the Women."  This is a basic making-of feature, containing interviews with much of the cast.

"The Women" is simply bad.  I hate to say it because the potential of the cast is so powerful.  They weren't given anything to act.  For much of the same premise, only done better, I recommend the "Sex in the City" film.  The video and audio quality is also bland.  Just bland all around.   Sorry.

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