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

Mike Barker

Running Time:
93 mins

Out to buy on DVD 20/02/05

"But Robert wouldn't"


Plagued by scandal Mrs. Erlynne (Hunt) flees New York and heads for Amalfi, Italy for the end of the summer season. As soon as she arrives, tongues start wagging amongst British, Italian and American upper class, as word of her arrival ripples through the social scenes. When she starts spending time with Robert Windemere (Umbers), the whole of Amalfi seems to know that something is going on, everyone except his wife Meg (Johansson).

Oscar Wilde's 19th Century tale of idle gossip moves to 1930s Italy but keeps all of the social back stabbing and grandiose posturing that came when the upper classes had nothing better to do but can this slight update make the movie appeal to a wider audience?

A time of complete decadence were the rich used the Mediterranean as their playground, is vividly envisaged by director Mike Barker and his filmmaking team. This was a time when money was bountiful and nothing was out of the reach of the rich. Playboys were romancing everywoman in their sights, divorcees were looking for their third or fourth wife, women were spreading the gossip and spending a lot more than their allowance and the whole scene was one of parties and cocktails every single night.

Bringing this world to life is a group of players that really get to grips with their characters and the time of the film. Helen Hunt is Mrs. Erlynne, the socialite who uses men for their money so she can live in the certain circles that she is used to. This is a good role for her as it shows that she has a much broader range than you might have thought. This is also a character that she can breathe some life into and makes more watchable than she should have been, as in essence she isn't really a very likable person. Scarlett Johansson continues her rise to superstardom with another performance that shows she is one of the most talented young actresses working today. Always choosing interesting characters, Scarlett makes Meg a character that you can sympathise with and get behind. As the plot unfolds you actually start to worry about her sensibilities and her well being and this is all down to her performance and skill in creating a character. Tom Wilkinson almost steals the show as Tuppy, the rich English nobleman with eyes for Mrs. Erlynne. Some of his one-liners and retorts are hilarious, as he makes the character instantly charming and never offensive. Stephen Campbell Moore is also good as playboy Lord Darlington, the man with an eye on Meg as he hopes to steal her away for Robert, played nicely by Mark Umbers.

In moving the story to Italy, director Mike Barker and his team have injected the story with an extra sense of style and grace. The whole film is beautifully photographed and it really captures to summer feel of those heady days of decadence in the 1930s.

While the story might be slight, the performance and characters make 'A Good Woman' very watchable and quite entertaining for those of you enthralled by Oscar Wilde and the genre. The film succeeds in creating characters that you emphasise with and are intrigued by as it takes you into a world of overindulgence and idle gossip.

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