Good Woman

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Movie Review by Mary-Louise Pericleous

Starring: Helen Hunt, Scarlett Johansson, Tom Wilkinson, Stephen Campbell Moore
Director: Mike Barker

True love lives only where the painful truth is kept hidden…

A GOOD WOMAN is set in the 1930’s on the beautiful Amalfi coastline of Southern Italy. A romantic comedy with a scandalous storyline, it is based on Oscar Wilde’s novel “Lady Windermere’s Fan.” Mrs Erlynne (Helen Hunt) has a reputation of entertaining rich married men. When her funds grind to a halt she sets sail from New York to Italy to pursue the young high profiled newly married couple Meg and Robert Windermere (Scarlett Johansson and Mark Umbers) who lead an aristocratic life. Upon Mrs Erlynne’s arrival men begin to fall at her feet most notably Tuppy (Tom Wilkinson) and it’s not long before her conspicuous want for men with money becomes the top gossip in the community. Meg begins to doubt her husband’s loyalties whilst the Casanova Lord Darlington (Stephen Campbell Moore) attempts to woo her. Ultimately a family scandal begins to erupt by rumours of betrayal and seduction.

In an interview Helen Hunt was asked what part of herself she bought out in her character Stella Erlynne and she ironically replied “I was pregnant during the movie, and no one knew that but Mike Barker (director). So that was my secret and I was playing a woman with a secret.” Helen Hunt’s performance is superb, her character is blatant and yet mysterious with the most complicated temperament.

Tom Wilkinson’s character Tubby has a likable disposition with the biggest sense of humour. He sets out in the film to break all the codes and convections the typical 1930’s high class society had bestowed on the individual. With a serious yet comical approach, Tubby and Erlynne’s dialogue on views about marriage along with their words of wisdom on gossips I’m sure will provide quotable one-liners. Such as when the fragile, naïve Meg is worried about what people may say and Erlynne replies “If we’re always guided by other peoples thoughts then what’s the point of having our own.” I think is very clever and an answer I’m sure could be applied in today’s day and age.

I thought this film was really excellent, it had a strong storyline filled with snappy dialogue and beautiful scenes of Italy although I feel that could have been explored a little more. Considering I went to see this film feeling like I had a cold coming on… I left the screening feeling quite revitalised and refreshed with all signs of my cold gone!!! I would not say this film is the new remedy for a cold or that it’s something that you will be thinking about for days on end, however it is a film that explores the lies that men and women tell each other in marriage and relationships. Where loyalty and secrets merge together to form true love. Can that really be??? In reality I’m not too sure, I think it’s the kind of thing that only happens in story tales, which is exactly what this film is.

A great film one to add to the DVD collection when it becomes available – even if it is to learn those clever quotes off by heart!

4 out of 6 stars