Sunday 8 May 2005

A Good Woman (2004) - ickleReview (cinema)

Film adaptation of Oscar Wilde's play, Lady Windermere's Fan, with Helen Hunt as Mrs Erlynne, Scarlett Johansson as Meg (Lady) Windermere, Stephen Campbell Moore as Lord Darlington, and Mark Umbers as Robert Windermere. Set in 1930 Amalfi, Italy, the scenery and period costumes are gorgeous (particularly a revealing dress worn by both Hunt and Johansson). There are numerous familiar and oft quoted out of context lines - such as "The only thing that I find worse than being talked about is not being talked about at all" - but they hardly sparkle in this production, despite the promises of the trailer.

Mrs Erlynne is on the run from her debts in New York, where her credit lines from affairs with wealthy married men have run out. In Italy she begins to interfere with the Windermere's marriage, provoking much indulgent gossip in the Anglo-American crowd of rich playthings. Lady Windermere suspects that her dashing young husband Robert is having an affair with Mrs Erlynne and is distraught at the sullying of what she thought was a perfect year-old marriage. Lord Darlington hovers around, offering a shoulder for Lady Windermere to cry on, whilst Tom Wilkinson plays Tubby, a charming old veteran of broken marriages willing to let Mrs Erlynne in on his fortune.

The drama is not as comic or farcical as some of Wilde's other plays - notably The Importance of Being Ernest, which was much better adapted to the film medium by Oliver Parker in 2002. A Good Woman is an enjoyable enough watch, but it feels a little rough around the edges with hollow establishing shots and the occasionally abrupt edit.

Nugget: I am not this film's biggest fan.

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