Why now? Diane English, best known as the creator of the Emmy-winning series Murphy Brown, has spent well over a decade trying to get a remake of The Women into theaters. Since she first started shopping her script around in the early Nineties, the project has attracted the interest of some of Hollywood’s top female talent, as well as that of director James L. Brooks, but English never succeeded in getting a Hollywood studio to bankroll a film about marriage, friendship, and adultery with an all-female cast. She eventually decided to produce it independently through Picturehouse and direct it herself (her first time behind the camera), and even then, Warner Brothers, which absorbed Picturehouse while The Women was in production, was prepared to dump it into 500 theaters without a serious marketing push—until the Sex and the City movie became a runaway box-office hit.
For English, The Women is undoubtedly (and mysteriously) a labor of love, but for Warner Brothers, its 2000-screen rollout is a cynical calculation that the same female audiences who turned out for The Devil Wears Prada and Sex and the City—starved of decent movies actually made for them—will choose to waste their hard-earned money on this dull and pedestrian bit of moviemaking instead of, say, contributing it to Hillary Clinton’s debt relief. This is the same brand of cynicism that landed everyone’s favorite hockey mom on the national Republican ticket: women will be so happy to see themselves finally represented, on the stump or onscreen, that they won’t really care about the substance of what they’re seeing—the candidate doesn’t have to be worthy; the movie doesn’t have to be good; they simply have to be.
Every once in awhile, a culture gets the movie it deserves, and The Women may well be the perfect film for our Sarah Palin political moment. But just because women have been as frequently ignored by Hollywood executives as they have by political powerbrokers, that’s no reason to think they’re either stupid or desperate enough to be hoodwinked by Warner Bros’ transparent opportunism. Click here to read the rest of Chris Wisniewski’s review of The Women.