Projections - Movie Reviews
With Jim Sabatini

A Good Woman

A Good Woman
Helen Hunt, Mark Umbers, Scarlett Johansson,
Stephen Campbell Moore and Tom Wilkinson

Rated: PG 
Reviewed by: Jim  
Release date: February 3, 2006 Released by: Lions Gate Films

This adaptation of Oscar Wilde's play "Lady Windermere's Fan" is a tame, somewhat acerbic romantic comedy commenting on love and marriage. Director Mike Barker (Best Laid Plans) has a photogenic feel for relocating the material to 1930's Italian Riviera, yet the production is diminished by the storytelling and two performances in particular.

On the Amalfi coast, Helen Hunt's sly Mrs. Erlynne has gotten away from a rightfully gossipy Manhattan looking for a new man. The young Robert Windermere, an average Mark Umbers, is whom she's focused on. Robert's naive wife, Meg (Scarlett Johansson of Match Point), doesn't catch on to the infidelity until she sees some of her husband's check stubs.

The screenplay by Howard Himmelstein diligently tries to spice it all with bright awareness from all in the community. Stephen Campbell Moore plays a young lord trying to rectifying things and the estimable Tom Wilkinson (The Exorcism of Emily Rose) is the older, engaging self-effacing chap looking closely at Mrs. Erlynne.

The reason Wilde wouldn't be happy with this translation is that it is too boring and Johansson and, especially, Hunt can't make their characters illuminate the action, as mellow as it is. Johansson does fare better from her physical beauty, notably in the costume department, but Hunt shows too much discomfort with the part as the line readings indicate.

Barker and Himmelstein initially provide much promise for an audience, but the emphasis on red herrings and misunderstanding from notions of identity and reputation turn out to be off-putting. And, A Good Woman should have been more thoughtful on an adult level, cutting back on the later dialogue and making the sounds of silence solid, rather than tame.

  Frank Chris Tony Jim Howard Jennifer Kathleen  Avg. 
A Good Woman       C       C

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