Good Woman Mike Barker 2

BY Kathleen OlmsteadPublished Nov 17, 2016

It's hard to believe that an Oscar Wilde play could be dour but director Mike Barker has managed to accomplish just that. Based on Lady Windemere's Fan, A Good Woman is set in 1930; when Mrs. Erlynne (Helen Hunt), a woman who lives off the "kindness" of rich men, is driven from New York by her lovers' wives, she travels to the Amalfi coast in search of new prospects. Her sights are set on Robert Windemere (Mark Umbers), a wealthy American renting a local villa with his young wife Meg (Scarlett Johansson). Could Mrs. Erlynne really be Robert's mistress? Will Meg succumb to Lord Darlington's advances? The original play's plot revolving around a misplaced fan and not so idle gossip remains intact but Wilde's story of morals and manners has lost most of its charm. The main issue with A Good Woman is that the lead actors aren't very interesting. Scarlett Johansson is too knowing to play a naïf. She seems too aware and observant to be an innocent, trusting bride. I also had great difficulty believing Helen Hunt as a seductress, even one slightly past her prime. I could believe she was conniving but not that men were so easily bewitched by her. Tom Wilkinson, as Tuppy, Mrs. Erlynne's wealthy suitor, is an exception. He sustains the energy and intelligence of Wilde's writing, and the film is notably better whenever he is on-screen. This is the case with the entire supporting cast, who act as a Greek chorus to the main players — pompous drunks and gossipy mavens at the country club who keep the plot moving with a collection of Wilde's best barbs. Neither the best nor the worst of its genre, A Good Woman is a bit of period piece fluff that looks great but tastes a bit bland. (Meltemi//Lighthouse)

Latest Coverage