Saturday, March 18, 2006

Good woman (not)

I haven't written anything about books or films for a week or so. Last weekend we all watched "A Good Woman" via Amazon DVD rental (a very good service). We all liked the previous two Oscar Wilde adaptations so thought we'd try this one. However, I'd recommend either of those (The Importance of Being Earnest and An Ideal Husband) over (as it is renamed) A Good Woman. Briefly, as no need to dwell on the mediocre, the movie is like a made-for-TV episode. The story has been updated to the 1930s and set in Amalfi. The script is biphasic: Oscar Wilde jewels crop up now and again (sometimes for a whole conversation, sometimes for one piece of wit), but the rest of it is of the "Oh, OK, then" variety. Similarly the actors - Tom Wilkinson (excellent as ever), John Standing and a couple of other "old boys" lounge around being frightfully English and Oscar-Wildy, spouting witticisms. The rest of the time, young, good-looking US actors who can't act (including Scarlett Johanssen, who wears not very much in quite a few scenes very well, but is not equal to much else), aided by a dreadful script, mangle the rest of the story. The whole is embarrassingly atrocious. (Helen Hunt, in the title role, is the exception to her compatriots-- she acts almost too feelingly, exposing even more the cardboard of the rest of it.) A quick look in DVDs in Amazon UK reveals no returns for "A Woman of No Importance", so as mentioned above, if you are in an OW mood, don't go for this, go for one of the previous two. Neither of those is classic (the most stand-out dreadful moments are Reese Witherspoon's fantasy scenes in "Earnest") , but they are both streets better than this missed opportunity. Just off to take Cathy to a party.