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Sunday, September 04, 2005

A GOOD WOMAN starring Helen Hunt, Scarlett Johansson and Tom Wilkinson

I NEED to put Scarlett Johannson on the subject title even though her role in this film is arguably smaller than Helen Hunt's (who plays the title role) because most Malaysians have jumped into the Scarlett bandwagon recently thanks to 'The Island', which flopped in the US but did surprisingly good business overseas.

I was at Perth City, doing some location scouting for my next film before I was gripped by boredom and gave in to my temptation to see a movie at the cinemas. Not Red Eye or Charlie and The Chocolate Factory, mind you, cos' they are too expensive, I was at this small cinema which plays older films, and arthouse films with tickets half the price of your usual multiplexes.

To my joyous joy, I saw a poster with Scarlett Johansson in it (and Helen Hunt, whom I didn't notice), and the title 'Good Woman'. Sifting through my immense memory and knowledge about movies that were released this year, I vaguely remembered reading about this on one of the many film magazines I read sometime ago, a british movie with Helen Hunt and Scarlett Johansson.

Not knowing any more than that, I gleefully bought a ticket and dashed into the cinema. After all, nothing excite me more than watching an obscure film which I myself know nothing much about.

Set during the 1930s, this film is actually based on an Oscar Wilde short story called 'Miss Windermere's Fan'. A young couple, Robert (played by some random guy) and Meg (Scarlett Johannson) went for Italy for some vacationing.

And then, they ran into an American woman of a certain age with a certain reputation Mrs Erlynne (Helen Hunt) as a scandalous golddigger. Things got trickier when Robert and Mrs Erlynn were spotted together. Are they having an affair? Poor Meg even found out from Robert's chequebook that he's been paying Mrs Erlynne. Holy shite!

And then, another bloke, Lord Darlington, used this opportunity to court Meg, because, after all, she's Scarlett Johansson. If I met a chick like this, and she has some problems with her hubby, I would take this opportunity to write 500-stanza poems for her to win her heart too. Oh, and there's this elderly gentleman, Toby (Tom Wilkinson, fine actor who played the crime boss in Batman Begins, and numerous other roles in smaller films not shown in Malaysia) who had set his eyes on Mrs Erlynne who would be say such sweet and romantic lines that I wished i had whipped out a notebook to record them all.

Of course, things ain't as they seem. There are some twists and all happening along the way that I wouldn't want to reveal as they would ruin the film but I doubt most readers of this blog will really get the chance to watch this film. Which is a pity, because it is indeed an enjoyable and romantic film.

I like the romantic subplot between Mrs Erlynne, who turned out to be a more wounded soul than originally thought, and Toby, twice-divorced, but decided that this would be the perfect woman for him. I paraphrase one of his lines, my fave:

"My dear, I don't mind if I'm not the first. But I want to be your last."


As for Scarlett Johansson, whom I felt had not been flexing much of her acting muscles since Lost In Translation, didn't really pull off that well in this movie either, besides reinforcing my belief that she would marry me in the future. Helen Hunt didn't seem convincing enough to be a vivacious scandalous golddigger, but she shone at the parts where Mrs Erlynne reveal her vulnerability. Tom Wilkinson, being an elder actor, will probably not get any appreciation from a typical shallow cinemagoer because, well, he's not hot. But he's great here. And elder actors like him should start getting some love and appreciation. But of course, I'm sure everyone would rather ogle over some Orlando Bloom period flick where he plays a blacksmith AGAIN than a fine Oscar winner like Wilkinson. Bah.

So yeah, I recommend this film, if it's ever shown somewhere, or if it's available on DVD.