Sunday, September 21, 2008

THE WOMEN (2008) - deliberately confused?

This is my face: deal with it.THE WOMEN is a rather baffling film about four privileged middle-aged women who are struggling to balance careers with families and to maintain dignity in the face of societal pressures to look young. It centres on a country-house wife called Mary (Meg Ryan) who has put her career on hold to be a supportive wife and mother only to discover that her husband is cheating on her with a perfume counter girl (Eva Mendes). Not only that, but Mary is betrayed by her best friend Sylvie (Annette Bening), a magazine editor who trades gossip on her friend's marriage in order to keep her job.

The message of the movie seems to be that female friendship is as important, if not more so, than a good marriage. It's also that women should be "selfish" and put their career and happiness first. Moreover, women should not bow to societal pressure to look young or have sex early. As Annette Bening's character says "This is my face, deal with it." All good, empowering stuff.

Then again, the message of the movie seems to be "It's hypocritical: it's complicated". After all, how can we not notice that Meg Ryan has had significant and devestating plastic surgery, and looks very different from Annette Bening who is ageing more naturally. Mary's mother (Candice Bergen) has a face lift, and Mary supports that decision. Maybe female empowerment is about being empowered to cave in to pressure and not feel guilty?

I'm not sure if THE WOMEN is a good movie or not. It seems to be genuinely confused about what it wants to say and as such it's hard to pin it down. The performances are fine and it looks polished. The issues it raises are important and of interest to modern career women. Yes, it's slippery in terms of its messages but maybe that's deliberate - maybe that accurately reflects women's odd relationship with their own self-image.

Insofar as the movie provoked me into thinking about big life-issues margibally more than it irritated me with it's clumsy product placement, I guess I would give it a qualified thumbs-up.

THE WOMEN is on release in the USA, Canada, Romania, Turkey and the UK. It opens in October in Puerto Rico, Argentina, Russia, South Korea, Poland, Italy and Spain. It opens in November in the Czech Republic, Norway and the Netherlands. It opens in December 11th in Germany; on December 26th in Finland and on January 28th in France.

1 comment:

  1. Man, what a horrible poster. I've never seen so much photoshopping on an official movie poster in my life! Which is ironic considering that the point of the movie is to be yourself and age with grace.