The premise of The Other Woman was simple. Woman meets man, man seems perfect, woman finds out man has wife, is horrified. She inadvertently alerts wife to husband’s infidelity; farce ensues. The twist here was that the wife and the girlfriend end up becoming best friends and bonding over their quest for revenge.
The Other Woman was a broad, silly comedy. The central conceit has been attempted before (see: John Tucker Must Die) and the forging of female bonds through adversity has been covered many times (First Wives Club, that scary magic one with Jack Nicholson). This film wasn’t offering anything original, but was enjoyably fun nonetheless. Cameron Diaz plays Carly, a successful and focused lawyer, who struggles to find men she enjoys dating, until she meets Mark (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau). Mark is charming, successful and romantic and they seem to be a perfect match, until Carly accidentally discovers Kate, Mark’s wife (Leslie Mann). Despite Carly’s (terrible) attempts to cover up who she is, Kate pieces things together and begins calling and visiting Carly on a regular basis. While Carly – who is now ignoring Mark – finds this odd to start with as she is desperate to distance herself from the situation, Kate explains that she has no-one else to talk to, as any of her other friends might spill the beans to Mark. They find themselves becoming friends as Carly encourages Kate to make a decision on how to handle the situation, but a spanner is thrown in the works as they discover Mark has yet another girlfriend, Amber (Kate Upton) pushing them into declaring war on Mark and seeking some seriously sneaky revenge.
I enjoyed The Other Woman a lot more than I expected to. It was daft, occasionally disgusting and clearly ludicrous. But it had warm, likeable leads, a sweet, positive attitude towards female friendship and enough laugh out loud moments to keep itself going. Of our central trio of women, I particularly enjoyed Leslie Mann’s performance. She does a nice line in spacey neurotics and she infused Kate – the only one who could be really hurt by Mark’s infidelity – with a warmth and gentleness that made it somehow totally believable that she would entice Carly and Amber into being her friends, even under such inauspicious conditions. Her refusal to blame either of her husband’s girlfriends was refreshing and I liked the fact that the whole situation made her look at herself and what she wanted to be doing (at one point she reels off all the things she gave up for her marriage) as well as the idea that rather than be intimidated by Amber’s lushness she develops a crush on her instead. As the film progresses, it becomes clear that their plot for payback is really for Kate’s benefit more than anyone else. The others move on but Kate is still on the fence about what to do, and she needs something to draw her focus so she can process her feelings before moving forward.
Quite a lot of the critical reception to the film has focused on it not meeting its goal. It wants to be a feminist film, with an emphasis on sisterhood, and some critics feel that they miss that aim entirely, the central premise of their friendship being based on a man and spending much of their time discussing said man, despite him clearly being a terrible person. That’s not really what I took away from the film however. I went to see it with my oldest friend on a Saturday night, in a screen packed with women, all out with their friends. As we left, we talked about our other girlfriends and how much we were looking forward to the next time we were all together. I didn’t see this film as anti-women or as being all about a man. Yes, it was full of clichés and yes, they wasted far too much time obsessing over how to get back at Mark, but for me it was ultimately about three unlikely friends who forged a strong bond, supported and encouraged each other and films for women that focus on great friendship as an end goal rather than romance are still far too rare, so I appreciate The Other Woman for attempting to do something different.
The Other Woman is being shown across the country now.