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Girls Gone Wilde in an Amiable if Undemanding Adaptation

Thick-skinned and just a tad vampiric, professional mistress Mrs. Erlynne of Lady Windermere's Fan suggests what The House of Mirth's Lily Bart, with a bit more luck and fewer scruples, might have had to become if she'd reached early middle age. "I'm infamous and poor," announces the upper-crust margin-flitter in this period update of Oscar Wilde's comedy, which moves the intrigue out of the late-19th-century London drawing room and onto the picture-postcard Amalfi coast of 1930s Italy, where luxury-liner Americans and titled Brits trade drowsy witticisms and make heavy-lidded eyes at each other whilst wondering when Rupert Everett is due into town. Freshly stained with stateside tittle-tattle, Mrs. Erlynne (Helen Hunt) descends on pre-fascist paradise with her sights trained on tremulous, wealthy young Meg Windermere (Scarlett Johansson, pitching her trademark throaty drawl to a girlier trill); with blackmail in mind, the interloper focuses local gossip on the hazily inappropriate relationship between herself and Meg's husband (Mark Umbers).

This Good Woman is an amiable drama queen, sluggish of gait and reliant on retail therapy, her bra stuffed with cheat sheets covered in epigrams for every conceivable occasion—some of them one-liners purloined from other Wilde works. Though Golden Globes correspondent Isaac Mizrahi recently made other anatomical priorities when it comes to the fruits of Ms. Johansson's forest, director Mike Barker takes a cue from the opening shot of Lost in Translation in paying especial attention to the lady's yummy booty. Pleasant and undemanding, all the more so whenever Tom Wilkinson's on-screen as a possible Erlynne suitor, the movie miscasts Hunt as the pragmatic seductress; striking an unvarying note of cheerful pleading, she delivers her every blown-glass line as if trying to coax her wallflower teen daughter to try out for the school play.

 
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