A GOOD WOMAN

BY CHRISTOPHER HASKELL
SEPTEMBER 7, 2013

When it comes to adapting the work of such a famous writer like Oscar Wilde, almost any director will encounter some difficulties portraying such vivid storytelling, especially in re-envisioning the wildly popular play “A Good Woman.” Mike Barker’s adaptation is both wonderfully cast and wrongfully cast in many instances, as is it often acceptably portrayed and mistakenly portrayed on several occasions. Helen Hunt, as Mrs. Erlynne tends to feel a bit miscast. While Hunt is usually a strong and insightful actress, her performance here is muddled, She never possesses the femme fatale factor needed to carry her sexuality to the level it needs to be. Instead, she often appears unsure of herself, a choice she makes, but ultimately squanders any sexual undertones surrounding her role.

On the other hand, expert casting goes to Tom Wilkinson as Tuppy, who embodies his prestige with vigor all his own, regularly stealing the show and becoming the highlight of the film’s last half. Scarlett Johansson, neither solidly nor poorly cast, does carry the naivety needed to successfully delineate the role of Meg and even surprises on occasion. If you’ve never experienced Wilde’s play, as I had not, the film does well to hide many of the story’s secrets and produces a mix between great revelations and weak conclusions. Overall, “A Good Woman” rides the borderline between a good adaptation and a misguided one, presenting Wilkinson and Johansson in enough of a favorable light to make the film worth it, but with no expectations of being a favorite.

RELEASE DATE
February 3, 2006

DIRECTOR
Mike Barker

WRITTEN BY
Howard Himelstein

BASED ON
“Lady Windermere’s Fan”
by Oscar Wilde

STUDIO
Lionsgate

PG
(for thematic material, sensuality and language)

DRAMA
COMEDY
ROMANCE

93 minutes

CINEMATOGRAPHER
Ben Seresin

COMPOSER
Richard G. Mitchell

EDITOR
Neil Farrell

CAST
Helen Hunt
Scarlett Johansson
Tom Wilkinson
Stephen Campbell Moore
Mark Umbers
Milena Vukotic

PRODUCED BY
Alan Greenspan
Jonathan English
Steven Siebert
Howard Himelstein

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