Friday, February 04, 2011

Best of Black Sheep: THE OTHER WOMAN

Written and Directed by Don Roos
Starring Natalie Portman, Steve Cohen and Lisa Kudrow

(Writer's note: This review is two years old. The film, which was originally titled "Love and Other Impossible Pursuits" is only now making it to theatres.)

Don Roos’s career as a director has been spotty at best. His debut feature, THE OPPOSITE OF SEX, showed great promise, a fresh voice that was loud and direct. Hollywood came calling and, after he gave them BOUNCE, they sent him home. That’s where he made HAPPY ENDINGS, which is when I pretty much gave up on him. His latest, THE OTHER WOMAN, finds him back in Hollywood’s good graces and, while his sharp approach may have softened, Roos has matured nonetheless.

The lovely Natalie Portman plays Emilia Greenleaf, a lawyer just starting out who falls for her employer instead of into her work. The non-linear revealing of the story does not always seem succinct but it goes a little something like this. Emilia gets pregnant; her boss (Scott Cohen) leaves his wife (Lisa Kudrow) and marries her. She, in turn, leaves her job and begins a rocky relationship with her stepson (Charlie Tahan) that gets exponentially more difficult when her baby is born and dies three days later. It is all some sort of half-cocked comment on the implausibility of love in our modern, overly complicated existence but polished for wide appeal.

The gravitas may not be there in order to take this exploration from the surface to the depths but the surface itself is smooth enough to see plenty of sentiment in its reflection. Portman is detached but unaffected. She has to carry the film and, though she seems to only be scraping the top layer of her character’s profundity, it is still enough to keep the tears flowing. THE OTHER WOMAN is conventional but sincere and in a time when real intimacy is considered by some to be fairy tale, genuine intention can be worth settling in for.

1 comment:

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