The Big Dipper isn’t the only constellation of stars you’ll see this April — there’s a handful of actress-led vehicles on offer this coming month.
By far the biggest is The Other Woman, a revenge comedy starring Leslie Mann, Cameron Diaz, and swimsuit model Kate Upton, who play a trio of women cheated on by the same man. As the wife, Mistress #1, and Mistress #2 of Game of Thrones‘ Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, respectively, Mann, Diaz and Upton form a tenuous sisterhood. The Other Woman is one of two wide-release films about women in April.
Halle Berry stars in Frankie and Alice, a Sibyl-esque, story based on true events about an stripper with multiple personalities in the 1970s. Kristen Wiig goes timid in director Liza Johnson’s Hateship Loveship, an adaptation of an Alice Munro short story about a provincial nanny deeply duped by her rebellious teenage ward (Hailee Steinfeld). After fighting on the side of good as the Black Widow in Captain America 2 (April 4), Scarlett Johansson bats for the other team in the sci-fi thriller Under the Skin, where she plays an extraterrestrial alien who sexually preys on men. MMA fighter-turned-action star Gina Carano uses her fists to rescue her kidnapped dude-in-distress husband.
The arthouse offerings remain ever-intriguing. Charlotte Gainsbourg’s Nymphomaniac character Joe resumes her Scheherazade-like tale of self-loathing and sexual desperation in Part Two. Cate Blanchett, Diane Kruger, and Connie Nielsen lend their voice talents to the documentary The Galapagos Affair: Satan Came to Eden, co-directed by Dayna Goldfine, which shifts between two timelines (the 1930s and the 1960s) to solve a murder case off the coast of Ecuador. South America is the setting of another highly fraught drama, writer-director Lucia Puenzo’s The German Doctor, which dramatizes a Nazi fugitive’s attempt to hide out in the outer reaches of Argentina.
Several documentaries are expectedly ambitious in their journalistic and social-justice aims. Watermark, co-directed by Jennifer Baichwal, combines visual grandeur and keen insight to explore how human beings have affected the earth’s supply of water. Hilla Medalia’s Dancing in Jaffa and Kathryn Bertine’s Half the Road tell smaller stories that resonate widely; Jaffa offers a portrait of an initiative to teach ballroom dancing to Jewish and Palestinian Israeli children, while Half the Road celebrates and points to the challenges inherent in women’s cycling.
Here are the April films written, directed by, and/or starring women. All descriptions are from press materials unless otherwise indicated.
Frankie and Alice – Co-Written by Cheryl Edwards, Mary King, Anna Waterhouse
Frankie & Alice is inspired by the remarkable true story of “Frankie” (Halle Berry), an African American go-go dancer with dissociative identity disorder, who struggles to remain her true self while fighting against two very unique alter egos: a seven-year-old child named “Genius” and a Southern white racist woman named “Alice.” In order to stop the multiple voices in her head, Frankie works together with a psychotherapist (Stellan Skarsgard) to uncover and overcome the mystery of the inner ghosts that haunt her.
The Galapagos Affair: Satan Came to Eden (doc) – Co-Directed by Dayna Goldfine and Co-Written by Dayna Goldfine and Celeste Schaefer Snyder
Featuring the voice performances of international stars Cate Blanchett, Diane Kruger, Connie Nielsen, Sebastian Koch, Thomas Kretschmann, Gustaf Skarsgard and Josh Radnor, this film interweaves an unsolved 1930s murder mystery with stories of present-day Galapagos pioneers: a handful of Europeans, Americans and Ecuadoreans who settled idiosyncratically on the Islands between the 1930s and 1960s.
Goodbye World – Co-Written by Sarah Adina Smith
James (Adrian Grenier) and Lily (Gaby Hoffman) live off the grid, raising their young daughter in a cocoon of comfort and sustainability. When a mysterious mass text ripples its way across the country, triggering a crippling, apocalyptic cyber attack, their home transitions from sheltered modern oasis to a fortress for the estranged old friends that show up at their door for protection and community. The unexpected reunion — abundant with revelry and remembrances, generously enhanced by organic wine and weed — is quickly undermined by the slights of the past, the spark of lingering flirtations and the threat of a locally grown new world order.
Nymphomaniac: Part Two
Picks up with the story of Joe’s (Charlotte Gainsbourg) adulthood, where her journey of self-discovery leads to darker complications.
Under the Skin
Storyline revolves around an alien disguised as a mesmerizing woman (Scarlett Johansson) who snares human prey on remote highways and other desolate spots with her voracious sexuality. Over time, she begins to change her thinking about humans and finds herself on a collision course with her own kind. (Variety)
In the Blood
A husband disappears while vacationing in the Caribbean and his grieving wife (Gina Carano) recklessly pursues the men whom she believes kidnapped and killed him.
Watermark (doc) – Co-Directed by Jennifer Baichwal
A documentary about humanity’s influence on the world’s most vital resource, water.
Hateship Loveship – Directed by Liza Johnson
Story follows a nanny (Kristen Wiig) who is hired to care for a teenage girl (Hailee Steinfeld) whose mother has just died. Complications arise when the nanny falls in love with the teen’s ailing father (Guy Pearce).
A pair of abused and neglected teenage girls almost get away with murder in Perfect Sisters, a riveting true-crime thriller based on the notorious “Bathtub Girls” case. Sisters Sandra and Beth (Abigail Breslin and Georgie Henley) learned early in life that they had no one to depend on but each other. But when their addict mother Linda (Mira Sorvino) makes plans to move the girls in with her lecherous and abusive lover, the girls’ situation becomes unbearable. Seeing no other way out, Sandra and Beth recruit their classmates to help them plan their mother’s murder. When the girls’ guilt spins out of control and they compulsively confess their involvement to friends, rumors that they are cold-blooded killers reach the ears of the authorities. Perfect Sisters is a harrowing and heartbreaking look at the teen subculture that nurtured the girls’ murderous fantasies and covered up for them after they committed an unthinkable crime in an effort to create a normal life for themselves.
Dancing in Jaffa (Doc) – Directed by Hilla Medalia
Renowned ballroom dancer Pierre Dulaine takes his belief that dance can overcome political and social differences and applies it to eleven-year-old Jewish and Palestinian Israelis.
Half the Road (Doc) – Directed by Kathryn Bertine
Half the Road is a documentary film that explores the world of women’s professional cycling, focusing on both the love of sport and the pressing issues of inequity that modern-day female riders face in a male-dominated sport. With footage from some of the world’s best races to interviews with Olympians, world champs, rookies, coaches, managers, officials, doctors and even the U.S. Surgeon General, Half the Road offers a unique insight into the drive, dedication and passion it takes for a female cyclist to thrive despite oppression. Both on and off the bike, the voices and advocates of women’s pro cycling take the audience on a journey of enlightenment, depth, strength, love, humor and best of all, change and growth.
The Other Woman – Written by Melissa Stack
After discovering her boyfriend is married, a woman (Cameron Diaz) tries to get her ruined life back on track. But when she accidentally meets the wife he’s been cheating on (Leslie Mann), she realizes they have much in common, and her sworn enemy becomes her greatest friend. When yet another affair is discovered (Kate Upton), all three women team up to plot mutual revenge on their cheating, lying, three-timing SOB.
Authors Anonymous – Directed by Ellie Kanner
A dysfunctional writers’ group melts down when their newest member (Kaley Cuoco) finds overnight success.
The German Doctor – Written and Directed by Lucia Puenzo
Patagonia, 1960. A German doctor (Alex Brendemuhl) meets an Argentinean family and follows them on a long desert road to a small town where the family will be starting a new life. Eva (Natalia Oreiro), Enzo (Diego Peretti) and their three children welcome the doctor into their home and entrust their young daughter, Lilith (Florencia Bado), to his care, not knowing that they are harboring one of the most dangerous criminals in the world. At the same time, Israeli agents are desperately looking to bring The German Doctor to justice.