The Other Woman Don Roos

The Other Woman Don Roos
Judging by his roster of films (The Opposite of Sex, Bounce, Happy Endings), Don Roos' particular specialty is in chipping away at the veneer of seemingly simple or superficial relationships, factoring sex, death, grief and fleeting mortality into the equation. It's the stuff of melodrama and potentially metaphysical angst, typically, but Roos has an almost defeatist sense of humour about it, taking the titular subject of The Other Woman and addressing the taboo without much embellishment or idealization, instead utilizing some honesty and an occasional middle finger. Said other woman is 22-year-old Harvard graduate Emilia (Natalie Portman), whose workplace crush on married boss Jack (Scott Cohen) turns into an affair, an eventual pregnancy and, ultimately, his divorce from wife Carolyne (Lisa Kudrow). It's a familiar scenario that lends itself to lifestyle magazine headlines and perspectives like "home wrecker" or "men are all dogs." But this occasionally comic character study isn't interested in categorizing or reducing its protagonist and key players, focusing instead on Emilia's grief over a lost baby and her inability to relate to her new stepson, William (Charlie Tahan), in a maternal capacity. While her character is implicitly young and naïve, Portman doesn't give into any meek or typical notions of a woman in her position, acting "put upon" when the life she's thrust into doesn't give her everything she imagined. She's intelligent without needing to prove it, trying hard to do right even though she doesn't always know how to manage her biases in relation to her new role, occasionally rolling her eyes at the rules Carolyne has put in place for William. It's what makes her character relatable and human, giving a nice dose of reality to the sort of relationship typically relegated to clichés and undiscerning morality. While occasionally a little too pat and sweet, Roos' latest comedy-drama shows substantial nuance and insight into human fragility and complexity in trying to keep one's head above water in a world where things are never as simple as they seem. Unfortunately, since the film never had much of an audience, there are no supplements or marketing materials included with the DVD. (Alliance)