The Other Woman is a female centric ‘vengeful spouse’ comedy with more mood swings than menopause. Director Nick Cassavetes and writer Melissa Stack can’t decide whether they stick to the raucous comedy or attempt to be authentic to the emotional devastation of encountering a litany of you partner’s mistresses.
Just when perennially single Carly (Cameron Diaz) starts seeing Mark (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and retiring her roster of suitors she stumbles into his wife Kate (Leslie Mann). Women scorned, they begin to uncover his web of deceit — revealing another mistress in Amber (Kate Upton), and they unite to get revenge.
Cassavetes and Stack built a Jenga tower of implausibility. If you’ve ever watched an early episode of Mad Men, seeing Don Draper (Jon Hamm) traipsing between a wife in suburbia and a plethora of mistresses, there’s something glaringly obvious; the shroud of a time (1950s/60s) without social media/mobile phones/GPS/access to online credit card statements is the only thing that keeps his repeated indiscretions discreet. Stack wants us to believe that a forty year-old stay at home wife with no children in 2014 isn’t savvy enough to use the internet? At this point Gandalf may as well ride in on a unicorn delivering shark repellant.
Cassavettes and Stack are treading a line between ridiculous moments such as laxatives in drinks, oestrogen in morning shakes, hair remover in Shampoo, and moments of deep drama like sunrise epiphanies, throwing wedding bands into the ocean, sincere moments of doubt and indecision that sees Kate wrestling with feigning ignorance to maintain her ‘perfect’ life. All the while there’s the additional stakes of Kate being implicated in Mark’s international embezzlement of stolen funds. Wait, what?! No you’re not confused, this isn’t me slipping into a review of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo; it’s a ham-fisted and tenuous reason to get to a warmer location and give the wardrobe department more bikini options for Kate Upton.
Beneath the confusion is Leslie Mann, who is the reigning female world champion of intentional ugly crying. After her ball tearing performances in Judd Apatow’s Knocked Up and This is 40 it’s a gear change to see her run with the naive Kate. She’s at her best when she’s out of control, however, the ‘crazy’ and engaging is undermined by the motivations of the filmmakers to be true to her turmoil in an authentic way.
Cameron Diaz gets another chance to contrast her bombshell beauty and an aptitude for slapstick comedy. Diaz’s Carly, the central character in this perfect storm of revenge anchors the irrational of Kate (Mann) and absentmindedness of Amber (Upton) to give the group some direction. Upton gets a great deal of laughs taking her bimbo up to eleven with Amber. Coster-Waldau plays the smarmy git in all his preppy glory while taking to being tortured and with the right amount of gusto. Don Johnson pops in as Frank, Carly’s father, to essentially show us how Detective Sonny Crockett is spending his retirement.
The Other Woman is frustratingly indecisive. One could compare it to Woody Allen’s experiment of comedy and tragedy Melinda and Melinda, except without the benefit of those poles being separate.
Blake Howard – follow Blake on Twitter here: @blakeisbatman and listen to legacy audio reviews on That Movie Show 2UE here or on top-rating film podcast Pod Save Our Screen, available now on iTunes.
Directed by: Nick Cassavetes
Written by: Melissa Stack
Starring: Cameron Diaz, Leslie Mann, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Don Johnson, Kate Upton, Taylor Kinney, Nicki Minaj