The Other Woman

THE OTHER WOMAN. Starring Cameron Diaz, Lesley Mann, Nikolai Coster-Waldau, Don Johnson, Kate Upton. Directed by Nick Cassavetes. 109 minutes. Rated M (Sexual references, coarse language and mature themes).

Well, we know what we think and feel when we hear about that kind of woman. This time it is Cameron Diaz, playing Carly, a sophisticated and well-healed lawyer. But, she is not quite as bad as we might initially suspect.

Somebody used the phrase ‘deserving victim’, a nicely precise description. Here it refers to businessman, Mark (Nikolai Coster-Waldau), whom we initially see romancing Carly. Everything seems wonderful, Mark genial and cheerful, Carly wondering whether this might be the real thing – and experiencing wry comments from her secretary,. And then suddenly, the audience sees him in bed – with his wife, Kate (Lesley Man). Mark is not nice, a two-timing philanderer.

Then Carly, believing that he has plumbing problems at home, turns up in her overalls with tools to help, only to encounter Kate. In several films, especially those directed by her real-life husband, Judd upper tail, Leslie Mann has been playing 40-ish wives with some kind of problems, often with the touch of hysteria. This time, with cause, she has more than hysteria.

Once upon a time in 1996, there was a very funny comedy, The First Wives Club, with Goldie Hawn, Diane Keaton, Bette Midler – and another group of philanderers. The film showed how the wives got together against their respective unfaithful husbands and became judges and jury to find ways of retribution. The Other Woman is not quite in the league of the 1996 film, but it has its interesting characters, vengeance and retribution situations (with Mark suffering quite a number of indignities but holding out as long as possible in his deceptions). And by 2014, dialogue and vengeance is more racy, raucous and raunchy than in 1996.

And just when it was a collaboration between wife and girlfriend, they discover Mark with yet another rather younger and beautiful woman (Kate Upton). She is immediately on side with the two women and they begin their work as three fateful furies.

As mentioned, Leslie Man is adept at this kind of role, her hysterics more than a little irritating at times – though one can understand how she feels. For 20 years, Cameron Diaz has shown versatility in her roles, from comedy to high drama. In this film she shows what a good sport she is, and how good she is at slapstick and physical comedy, having to do a fair amount of this in her quest.

The film is enjoyable in its way, especially if you feel like sharing the vengeance on this current deserving victim, quite an amount of comedy and moralising, but not particularly memorable.

Fr Peter Malone MSC is an associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film & Broadcasting.

20th Century Fox.

Out April 17, 2014.

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