08 April 2010

The Women

One of the most unlucky aspects of The Women is, despite its star-studded list of actresses, its timing, which is a bit too late. This is because everybody who is interested in this type of film would more or less definitely have seen Sex and the City. The main four characters are quite similar and the fact that all of them dwell in an urban landscape even emphasizes the similarity even more. What is even more strikingly similar is that both films do highlight the power of men, despite the status of present-day city women.

All in all, I don't find the film too objectionable, as most reviews have said. The director does manage to convey the important message that female bonding is indeed crucial and even indispensable at the time when male power is invisibly pervasive, as we literally see no men in the film, apart from the baby in the end.

What is central here is how the city women are stereotyped in this film -- one taking an editorial post in a very trendy women magazine, one a woman who loves to have children and a big loving family, and one a lesbian. But the film does center on another stereotype, which I find banal yet interesting -- a woman who is rich but whose husband has a secret affair with a salesgirl. What we see here is a spoiled housewife who has this ideal American dream facing the 'real' crisis for the first time when her husband is found to have a secret lover. This betrayal is so vital to her growth, making her question what she really wants in life. My first impression here is that, like Sex and the City, this film brings up a lot of questions. It portrays how fragile modern women are, how much they are sheltered from real life, and how such a middle-class life blinds them to so much that could've happened in their life. No wonder that while a lot of city women may identify themselves with the film, a lot as well would find these problems too banal and light -- so insignificant and repetitive that a budget and a powerful cast should not have been wasted.

Perhaps the genre of romantic comedy does hinder the serious development of the film, as we see Mary excel in her fashion designing career and then able to be financially independent. What would've happened if she had failed? What would've happened if her daughter had liked the mistress of her husband? In other words, what if the film cares a little bit more to show the harsh realities of life in the city, where not everything is rosy?

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