A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that while this family drama is earnest and well-meaning, the story about a man who leaves his wife for another woman (Natalie Portman) and then tries to create a family with his son and the new wife after tragedy strikes isn't age appropriate for tweens or younger teens. It addresses subjects -- including miscarriage, infidelity, and animosity between a stepparent and her stepchild -- that are too heavy for younger viewers. There are also a few sexual situations (though no nudity), plus swearing (sometimes in front of a child) and drinking.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Navigating her marriage to Jack (Scott Cohen) isn't going well for Emilia (Natalie Portman), the heroine of this drama based on Ayelet Waldman's novel Love and Other Impossible Pursuits. His ex-wife, Carolyne (Lisa Kudrow), is bitter; his young son, William (Charlie Tahan), is distrustful and reluctant. Perhaps William blames Emilia for the end of his parents' marriage, or maybe he just doesn't like her. But Emilia is conflicted, too, unsure of how to mother the boy, especially since she and Jack lost their own newborn. Can she grieve her baby's death and move on in time to salvage her relationship with William and Jack?
Is it any good?
For a drama that deals with such weighty issues, THE OTHER WOMAN is woefully inert (it sometimes feels like it crawled, rather than leapt, off of Waldman's pages and onto the screen). One moment is barely differentiated from the next, never mind how tragic or terrible or poignant what's happening might be. The dialogue describes rather than illuminates, loose ends are tied up with little build-up, and the storytelling doesn’t surprise (when eBay becomes a dramatic device, you know a movie’s reaching).
It’s a waste of a good cast, really, and not just Portman. Though she and Cohen have little chemistry, he’s in perfectly good form, as are Kudrow and Six Feet Under’s Lauren Ambrose, who ought to have been given something meatier to work with. All of that said, the film does have some interesting moments, especially one in particular, when Emilia’s pain is leavened by an unexpected source; in Portman's hands, the scene feels palpable and true. It’s apparent that the filmmakers meant to create something of substance. That’s worth something -- though ultimately not enough.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how the movie portrays relationships -- both romantic and familial. Do the characters and the way they interact with each other seem realistic?
Are the adults in this movie presented as positive role models? Are they successful parents? Why or why not?
What messages does the movie send about infidelity?
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