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A Good Woman
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  • It has a few tricks up its sleeve that makes it fun and entertaining...
    I remember wanting to see this movie for the mere fact that Scarlett Johansson was staring and I totally adore her. The movie hadn't received the grandest of reviews and so I stayed away until a few weeks back my wife and I decided to rent it. I must admit that, while I can understand to a degree some of the bad press, it truly is far from a horrible mess. The film is shockingly engaging and in the end I found that I enjoyed myself my more than I thought I would.

    Based on Oscar Wilde's play `Lady Windermere's Fan', the film follows a young married couple, the Windermere's, as they settle into their home in Italy. Young Meg is infatuated with her successful husband Robert and trusts him indefinitely. That works to her advantage, especially when Mrs. Erlynne moves into town. Notorious for conniving her way into the lives of married men, the town is obviously up in arms about her arrival. She quickly becomes the talk of the town. Meg, having met her, doesn't understand why there is so much gossip to be had, but when it becomes common knowledge that her husband has been spending unnecessary amounts of time with Mrs. Erlynne, even giving her money, she begins to worry for her marriage.

    There is more to `A Good Woman' then the synopsis that I just provided. There is much more to Mrs. Erlynne alone than meets the eye. In fact I never would have guessed how this movie would end, and I think that's why I liked it all the more.

    One major plus to this film is the marvelous Tom Wilkinson. His performance as Tuppy, the successful bachelor who tries to woo Mrs. Erlynne for himself, is seriously best in show. I only wish he had been in every scene. Wilkinson is always top notch, that's for sure, and here is obviously no exception. Mark Umbers is rather forgettable as Robert Windermere, but thankfully the film isn't that interested in him aside from a prop character. The film is much more concentrated on the jealousy building in his wife and the mystery behind Mrs. Erlynne. Stephen Campbell Moore does a fine job playing Lord Darlington, the young suitor obsessed with having Meg to himself. His performance, while not award worthy, is memorable and natural. He has a natural charisma and charm that is befitting.

    The two female leads are both adequate as well. Scarlett Johansson, while not giving her finest performance, delivers as Meg a character that is na?ve and trusting yet guarded in a way. By the end of the film she is forced to find herself even if it means falling flat on her face. She manages to pull this off well. Helen Hunt, many have jested, is too old for this role. I agree, yet have to disagree. I actually really enjoyed her performance. She looks ancient here, older than she really is, and I found that odd. You'd think they would have made her look younger for the purposes of the character, but they don't. Regardless, she nails the performance in my opinion. I love her chemistry with Wilkinson especially, even if he steals the scenes.

    In the end I felt that `A Good Woman' was a good movie, one that is rewarding in its own ways. Sure, it's not phenomenal and it's certainly not the best period piece to come around in recent years, but it manages to deliver a solid 3 ? star movie that is fun and exciting and something that the whole family can enjoy....more info
  • One of My Favorites
    I saw this film on an international flight a couple of years ago, before it was released in the US, and loved it. I thought everyone in it was great, the location perfect for the story, and that all of the elements came together nicely. I've seen it several times since and my feeling for this film has not changed. It's one of my all-time favorite films....more info
  • Truth and love
    Is there such a thing as a bad movie made in Italy? Probably, but at least the scenery's usually good. I can't imagine A Good Woman working in a setting like New York or London, but I don't have to. It's set in 1930's Amalfi, the perfect background for a story like this one. Professional mistress Mrs. Erlynne flees to Italy when too many wives are on to her at home. On the ship, she notices a newspaper photo of a young couple, and she knows exactly what her next move should be. The young wife is innocent and naive, and all sorts of innuendo and gossip go flying around Amalfi that season.
    This is a woman's picture, and Helen Hunt as the adventuress has never looked more beautiful. Her voice, unfortunately, is rather too clipped and less sultry than it need to be, but in the end, she pulls of her role. Scarlett Johanssen is well-suited to her character, and both women turn out to be more than they seem at the end. Beautiful wardrobe, very subtle music, and a fine performance by Tom Wilkinson, as a jaded, expat Brit who has learned a little something about reality and happiness, add to the success of this production.
    I'm now off to read the Oscar Wilde original....more info
  • A Notorious Bad American Woman's Redemption in Italy.
    A Good Woman was screened at festival here in Toronto alongside with films like Being Julia, but it's been kept on the shelves until last month when it finally gets it's North America release. Now I know it's delayed for the reason of marketability. I find this film to be dull in it's direction and it results in a nice looking period film lack luster, comedy, or drama. It's not as good as An Ideal Husband(also a Wilde adaptation), and it's not worthed the participations the two leading ladies.

    Helen Hunt(Mrs. Erlynne) is an experienced seductress with a bad reputation, and she's been with most of the married men in New York. When she's shunned by society, she flees the city to Italy in search of another sponsor. She managed to connect to a wealty young married man named Robert Windemere(Mark Umbers) who secretly carried an affair with her and provides for her finiancially. Meanwhile, Mrs. Windemere(Scarlette Johansson) is clueless about her husband's secret affair with the notorious Mrs. Erlynne when the whole town's gossiping about her arrival. Mrs. Erlynne also attracts the attention of another wealthy suitor named Tuppy(Tom Wilkinson) who eventually becomes infatuated by her and wants to give her his all. The real mystery of Mrs. Erlynne's past starts to unravel, and her must not reveal her secrets and lies in order to help save Windemere's marriage and redemn herself....

    Helent Hunt at times seems to be channeling Glenn Close's expressions from Dangerous Liasons, and she's quite convincing as woman wearing a mask. Unfortunately, the role is limited to a one-note and not multi-layered performance. Got to give her credit for being so glamorous and against type. Scarlette Johansson is also kind of low-key in this film. However, she did get to have a few tearful moments. I must say that Tom Wilkinson is superb in a supporting role....more info
  • Quite Surprising
    I didn't know what to expect from this film, but I was pleasantly surprised. I enjoyed the story. I purchased the movie for no particular reason, just to see something different.

    I didn't see the twist coming and I appreciated the ending. It is now one of my favorite movies....more info
  • Pleasantly Surprised by Character-driven Storyline
    I was pleasantly surprised by this film. The deep characters enthralled me, especially Helen Hunt's character, who lives a conflicted life without regrets--if you can believe that--and who is immediately sympathetic, despite her nefarious reputation. The complex character-driven storyline kept me on the edge of my seat, literally. At one point in the film, I jumped from my seat, angry at one of the antagonists, a wimpy, red-headed prig, with a little dog she obviously loves more than she loves other people--I jumped from my seat in anger, certain she was going to hell. Everything came together in the penultimate scene, which set up a resolution I did not see coming. This is a story about love, trust, gossip, and the nature of truth.

    Note that Helen Hunt plays a different kind of character in this film, one that not everyone may find enjoyable. And some of the characters are weak, thrown in for comedic effect, which unfortunately doesn't always work. And if the critics are right, you might enjoy Oscar Wilde's original play more, but you can't get that on DVD.

    Bottom line: There is only a handful of films that have enthralled me as A Good Woman has. Despite the critics' balking, 93 minutes well-spent. I rate it 5 stars out of 5, because not only did I love watching it, I feel like I want to watch it again as soon as possible....more info
    Oscar's Wilde play `Lady Windermere's Fan.'has been transferred into a decent movie from the British director Mike Barker (`To Kill a King'). This is all about a humorous brilliant production with an outstanding cast as Wild deserves.
    Mrs. Erlynne (Helen Hunt) is a middle age experienced woman who is desperate to find money to support her luxurious way of living. She goes in the Italian country side where she is picking up her victims. There she will meet the ideal victims a just married couple the innocent Lady Windermere (Scarlet Johansson), and her husband Lord Windermere (Mark Umbers. In the scene there is a devoted admirer (Tom Wilkinson), and a man really close to Mrs. Erlynne Lord Darlington (Stephen Campbell Moore. Secrets stories rumors will create a good movie more funny and less melodramatic all these dressed with beautiful romantic costumes and always with the background of the 19th century.
    I recommend it have fun
    ...more info
  • Nice movie ... Enjoy !
    When I started to watch this movie, I wasn't expecting much, but the movie just blown me away with its simplicity and sophistication, reinforces my faith that a good movie doesn't needs to have all bells and whistles.
    It has a simple plot, but intellectual dialogues and great acting hits the mark.
    Enjoy!...more info
  • The miscasting is mightier than the engaging storyline
    I really went back and forth with this film. In the end, though, I just couldn't get past the fact that even a good script based on the work of a literary genius like Oscar Wilde just can't overcome the deleterious effects of problematic acting. I can't bring myself to say bad acting because I think Scarlett Johansson is a very good actress and - while I don't really care for her - Helen Hunt is as well. Neither was very good in One Good Woman, however. The blame must really fall on the director and casting director, though, as neither actress really belonged in this film. Helen Hunt may well have tried too hard to fill the role of the adventuress, man-chasing Mrs. Erlynne, resulting in a slow and careful (sometimes stultifying) delivery of dialogue that gives rise to no feeling or charisma whatsoever. With very little charm at her disposal, it becomes difficult to believe that so many men fall so easily under her spell. As for Johansson, she seems totally out of her element here, clearly uncomfortable throughout many a scene. Fortunately, Tom Wilkinson and the fellows I affectionately call "the old geezers" come bearing the quick wit and natural bearing called for in this type of satirical treatment. That allows the script to shine in places, thereby saving the whole project from disaster.

    Clearly, this film takes many a liberty with Oscar Wilde's classic drama Lady Windermere's Fan, yet it still wields quite an impressive sword of satirical wit here and there in the script. The story is basically an attack on the hypocrisies of gossip vis--vis high society, something Wilde knew quite a bit about. Lady Meg Windermere (Scarlett Johansson) is a young newlywed living in idyllic bliss with her husband Robert. Wealthy, attractive, and well-to-do, she thinks she has the perfect marriage to a man she trusts implicitly. Then Mrs. Erlynne shows up, having left New York rather hastily, courtesy of several wives anxious to see her depart from their husbands' lives. Mrs. Erlynne has always relied (and indeed prospered mightily) on the kindness of strange men, earning her quite a reputation in 1930s America and, rather quickly, Italy. She and Robert Windermere are soon the hot topic of local gossip, with nosy well-to-do women tracking their private meetings and going quite apoplectic about it to one another. When word finally filters down to her, Meg is quite stunned and contemplates some rather rash action of her own. Meanwhile, dear old Tuppy (Wilkinson), a man with his own share of past social indelicacies, quite falls for Mrs. Erlynne and proposes marriage - to the chagrin of all his marriage-hating buddies. These are the lovable "old geezers" I was talking about, and they constantly delight the viewer with short, stinging, and remarkably witty complaints about the institution of marriage.

    I won't attempt to chronicle the shifting layers of this film, for the plot takes a number of delicious turns along the way. The plot's solid, as is the writing. Indeed, I would sometimes find myself pulled into the story rather engagingly, but the magic always departed once Hunt and/or Johansson turned up for a more serious scene. That proves to be too much for this film to overcome. Yes, it's always a treat to reexplore Victorian sensibilities (even if they're arbitrarily shifted to 1930s Italy), but A Good Woman never exhibits the first sign of life or energy, plodding its way through a story that could have and should have been much more enjoyable....more info
  • Modern take on 19th century morality tale
    What makes this film wonderful is that it is made after Oscar Wilde's play "Mrs. Windermere's Fan". For anyone who saw his play in the theatre, this film is visual disappointment in terms of costumes, jewelry, hair and mannerisms of the female characters. Two main female leads Scarlet Johnasson and Helen Hunt are miscast. It is almost as if their roles are reversed. Johansson is too seductive to be cast as a prim young bride, while Hunt's thin lips and deep, severe facial lines make her even less appealing in her role of a seductress of men. Wilde's smart snippets of wisdom make this film lively. Although film was made in Italy, I wish there were more beautiful places showing in the film that could entice some true romantic emotions - but that is not the case. Tom Wilkinson is great in portraying aging, wealthy man, somewhat pretending to be shallow and yet remaining irresistibly endearing. The moral tale of how men can get away with being a playboy while women have to conform to a higher standards of a moral virtue is still true today. I liked the line that Helen Hunt had where she says to a young woman:"Do you think that just because we got a right to vote that makes us equal to the standards of men?" Good entertainment, but not a great movie....more info
  • Wilde would have fallen asleep
    I did not know anything about this film when I picked it up. I kept wondering why the characters were speaking in epigrams, which I characterized as "wannabe Wildisms." Then, when I read the other reviews here I discovered that this was actually based on a play of Oscar Wilde!Somehow, in the lips of these actors, they failed to scintillate. I was horribly bored by the first half and only the pretty scenery kept me watching. Then the plot thickened and I actually enjoyed the story.

    The main problem, which many of the other reviewers here have mentioned is the serious miscasting. Helen Hunt, who is so great in other films was just terrible here. She played the vulnerable aspects well but completely lacked the over-the-top charm that the character demanded.

    Likewise, Scarlett Johanson whose performances elsewhere have been lovely, just was wrong, wrong, wrong here. She didn't even look good, and that must take some doing.

    With other actresses this might have been a really successful film. However I suspect that the director had a hand in its failure. I didn't mind the change of place or period; in fact I thought Amalfi in the 30's was a good choice. But Wilde in his genius, could present something as a not-too-serious, highly mannered piece and still inject the right amount of humanity into it. This director didn't manage to combine those two elements well. The fun parts were with the old guys; when the tone became serious, it lost it.

    Still, if you're not expecting to see a film of the quality of Oscar Wilde's plays and are just content to pass a pleasant two hours, this might be for you....more info
  • Thoroughly enjoyed it!
    I expected light fluff from this movie and was pleasantly surprised to discover it was so much more. It had so many elements that I love in movies: great scenery, great dialogue, wit, humor and touching moments. I watched it twice in one week (not counting the time with the commentary) and cried both times at one scene. Telling too much about the plot will spoil it for anyone who wants to be surprised. Just watch it. Helen Hunt is outstanding. Actually everyone is good....more info
  • "It takes a lot of skill and practice to live without regrets,"
    The lovely Mrs. Erlynne has a problem. Spurned by all the society ladies, for discreetly servicing their husbands, she can no longer afford to spend her days living in New York as the "woman of ill repute." Suddenly she finds herself an outcast and penniless, so she decides to travel to the Amalfi Coast of Italy, where she hopes to squeeze some cash out of some fresh prey.

    She sets herself on the young newlyweds Robert and Meg Windermere (Mark Umbers and Scarlett Johansson) and in the process; she hopes to find herself a new man. But Mrs. Erlynne also holds a secret, a secret that if made known, will threaten to destroy the young couple's marriage. Robert doesn't want his wife's peace disturbed and doesn't want her to know about the secret; yet Mrs. Erlynne takes advantage of the situation, after all, she desperately needs someone - preferably an aristocrat to keep her in the lifestyle to which she has become accustomed.

    Neither Robert nor Mrs. Erlynne, however, have reckoned on the vituperative nature of the Italian aristocracy. Amalfi is a hotbed of idol gossip, with the elegantly rich entertaining themselves by spying on each other, soaking up all the scandal wherever they can find it. Almost instantly, conjecture becomes facts. Mr. Windermere's clandestine meetings with Mrs. Erlynne are quickly mistaken for a tawdry affair. The fire flares when Meg finds check stubs paid to Mrs. Erlynne in her husband's desk.

    Word quickly gets around, especially with a woman such as Mrs. Erlynne and her past threatens to catch up with her The only person who doesn't judge her is the lovable and kindhearted - and very rich - Tuppy, a bachelor who yearns to marry his match. Meanwhile, the caddish Lord Darlington (Stephen Campbell Moore) is courting the innocent Meg, and she's quite enamored of him.

    Everyone is soon immersed in a maelstrom of illicit liaisons and racy sexual politics. Meg is convinced her new husband is having an affair, whilst Mrs. Ermine is fraught with confusion - a born outsider, marriage has never been for her, yet she's getting a little too old to be constantly branded as such a "loose" woman. In A Good Woman the wealthy are sarcastic, bitter, witty and conniving just as much as they are innocent, emotional, regretful and honest.

    Based on Oscar Wilde's Lady Windermere's Fan, director Mike Barker does a fabulous job of drawing the Wilde social satire out of the drawing room, and opening up the play to Italy in the 1930's and incorporating some of the most beautiful and sparkling Riviera vistas as a backdrop, The production design is unsurpassed - the film is lush, exotic and absolutely gorgeous to watch, there's never a scene or an image wasted.

    The acting is also strong. Hunt beautifully captures, Mrs. Erlynne's vulnerability and pain - she's a damaged and lonely woman, who obviously loves money and the sort of lifestyle it can bring, but she's also a realist and doesn't hesitate to play the shameless vamp with a knack for insinuating herself into the beds and checkbook registers of men who should know better.

    Tom Wilkinson absolutely nails the very wealthy but lonely Tuppy with the required tragicomic pitch that brings forth a great deal of self-effacing charm. And of course the beautiful Scarlet is extremely good here and manages to seem na?ve and vulnerable without tipping into melodramatics.

    Oscar Wilde liked men with a future and women with a past. In a Good Woman he wouldn't be disappointed, as the film is full of colorful and endlessly pithy types who seek to escape their past mistakes, yet seem to have a real love for life. Mike Leonard June 06.
    ...more info
  • One hanky, two thumbs
    Helen Hunt has a filmography with a wide span but is probably best remembered for the 'Miss Cutie Pie' roles she established in the television series "Mad About You" and the award-winning "As Good As It Gets". In this movie, based on Oscar Wilde's play "Lady Windermere's Fan", she impressed me the way a fine wine carefully aged to perfection might. Add to that Tom Wilkinson's best performance since "The Governess", good support from Scarlett Johansson, Stephen Campbell Moore, and Mark Umbers; and top it all off with costumes and sets which will transport one back to the 30s and there's the formula needed for a truly good movie. Mrs. Erlynne (Hunt) leads a rather dissolute life, is considered something of a jezebel by the members of high society, and she has a secret. When she finds she must quickly get out of New York she notices the Windemeres (Moore and Johansson) are vacationing in Italy and sees the handsome husband as a possible `easy mark'. You just know it's going to get `sticky' somewhere, somehow, but unless you've already seen Wilde's play you're going to be surprised--and delighted. Some of the minor supporting roles are just a tad overdone, but they are fortunately left behind when things start heating up, so think of them as comic relief and sit back and enjoy. And keep that hanky handy. ...more info
  • (3.5 STARS) Decent Adaptaion of Oscar Wilde's 'Lady Windermere's Fan'
    The film is titled `A Good Woman,' but it is actually filmed version of Oscar Wilde play `Lady Windermere's Fan.' Wilde's original, which was put on stage in 1892 and became the first `hit' for Wilde, was set in the drawing room of end-of-the-century England, but `A Good Woman' shifted the background to the Amalfi coast (South Italy) in the 1930s. The director is Mike Barker from England (`To Kill a King'), but some of the main characters' roles are played by American actors.

    Two women play the central roles in `A Good Woman.' One is Mrs. Erlynne, `a woman of experience' (Helen Hunt, cast against type) a seductive middle-aged woman from New York. Shunned by the aristocratic society, she still hopes to win the love of gentleman - a rich gentleman - and here in Italy, it seems, she has already attracted some of them. One of them is `Tuppy' (delightful Tom Wilkinson), who refuses to listen to the rumor about Erlynne.

    The other woman is Lady Windermere, `a woman of innocence' (Scarlett Johansson), who is newly married, and devotes herself to her husband. After arriving at this beautiful Italian resort, however, her husband Lord Windermere (Mark Umbers) seems to have got nervous about something, some secret he knows, which lady's man Lord Darlington (Stephen Campbell Moore) also happen to notice in his checkbook.

    The film retains the basic storyline of Wilde's original. There is a twist (as in the original) which might or might not surprise you. All in all the filmed version is successful in maintaining our interest in the story, which gets melodramatic especially in the second half. The changed location is not a bad thing to me (the `stagy' films are not my cup of tea), but the changed times are a different matter. The 1930s is, I m afraid, too modern a period to make the rigid social conventions of late Victorian convincing. The first part of the film is, I think, considerably weakened by the changed situation and lengthy introduction.

    Here is another complaint. As the film's title suggests, `A Good Woman' is more about the ladies than about the gentlemen. That is good. Consequently, however, unlike the original play two male roles Lord Darlington and Lord Windermere look less impressive than the ones you meet in the book. This is a problem because many of the witty lines of Wilde are uttered by Lord Darlington and his character as a flirt plays an important role in the second half of the play. He should be more attractive, hopefully devilishly charming.

    You may object to the casting of Ms. Hunt and Ms. Johansson. I find Helen Hunt's lady Windermere sexually seductive enough, but not really seductive enough to make her look like a social climber. Not that her acting is bad, but you may name a name or two of someone who could play the same role as good as, or perhaps better than, Helen Hunt.

    `A Good Woman' is easy on the eye with two beautiful leading ladies in gorgeous costumes, and fun to see with intelligent dialogues (and it is Oscar Wilde, the genius, so why not witty after all?) The original play's social satire is no longer compelling, now. But `A Good Woman' is light-hearted, maybe too light-hearted you might say, but is still sweet and pleasant. ...more info
  • Hollywood at its very best
    During the last few years while Hollywood was immersed in their orgy of films that celebrate violence, death and destruction three small European companies got together and hired a gifted writer to adapt Oscar Wilde's Lady Windermere's Fan, for those who may not be familiar, a much heralded stage drama (a Comedy of manners as it was then called) first presented in the London stage in 1892.

    Here is story containing much of the original, brilliant wit of Oscar Wilde. Here is a lovely cast of carefully selected, talented actors and here is a motion picture every bit as filmic as anything yet done, re-set at the 1930 seaside village of Amalfi, Italy, a watering place for the rich in pre-Hitler Europe.

    The period is lovingly restored perhaps only in the ways of Italian craftsmen in costume, architecture, ambiance and even camera film tone. This care extended to the performances by actors we all recognize and admire; Helen Hunt, here, surprisingly beautiful, Tom Wilkinson and Scarlett Johansson.

    The film was not really seen here although apparently released theatrically. Why not is puzzling and why the critics did not like it while they go bonkers over junk is far beyond my ken.

    Fortunately I saw the entire movie on Comcast's On Demand completely free of breaks and commercials on my large Sony Bravia. For two hours I was in heaven with my cup of coffee and a cinnamon-raisin bagel from Brueggers' downstairs. If you want to escape to what surely was a more graceful time of letters and human behavior please get a hold of the DVD which is available at this writing.

    ...more info
  • Sorry movie
    I am a big movie fan and especially period pieces but this was a sorry movie! Helen Hunt delivered her lines with less emotion than a waitress behind the counter of Denny's. Her voice tones are great for sarcasm but for meaning and depth lines it stinks.

    Johansson was as pale as a ghost. Sure she was a very young innocent but she needed some rouge. I also thought she looked downright ugly and dowdy in this movie. Altho the costumes were beautiful she was an ugly ducklying standout.

    The whole movie lacked the delicate touch and nuance a Wilde story should have. Helen Hunt was the biggest standout as missed casting. She may do in cutting edge stories in 2000 but not in this period piece.

    The scenery and costumes were about the only redeeming factor in this movie....more info