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Inexplicable Natalie Portmania Continues in The Other Woman

An adaptation of Love and Other Impossible Pursuits, Ayelet Waldman’s novel of Upper Manhattan entitlement and sanctimony, this minor 2009 Toronto Film Festival entry has been dusted off to capitalize on insatiable, inexplicable Natalie Portmania. Portman, who also executive-produced, stars as Emilia Greenleaf, the home wrecker of the title who becomes the second wife of Jack (Scott Cohen), a senior partner at the law firm where she works as an associate. Soon after they wed, their newborn dies, leaving Emilia, who has apparently given up her career entirely, to misdirect her grief while enduring both the neuroses of Jack’s highly strung eight-year-old son, William (Charlie Tahan), and the fury of his ex-spouse, Carolyn (Lisa Kudrow, pleasingly aggro). Director Don Roos (The Opposite of Sex, Happy Endings), who also scripted, wobbles tonally, sometimes disastrously: A memorial walk in Central Park for those who have lost infants at first cruelly invites derision before being validated as healing, only to then spiral into petulant tears and recriminations. Though lazily mocking hyper-vigilant parenting, the film treats the moldiest clichés—“We all end up marrying our fathers anyway”; “It’s the people who love you you’re the hardest on”—as gospel. Portman, neither courageous nor complex enough to fully embody an often unlikable character, succeeds merely in enervating us.

 
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