Rushed into release seemingly out of nowhere, and exploiting Natalie Portman’s Black Swan Oscar spotlight right now, The Other Woman is more in tune with IFC’s typical small screen lineup, and should have been relegated there. A sympathetic marital infidelity weepie whose justification rests on spurned spouse Lisa Kudrow’s dragon lady shoulders, natch, The Other Woman is the sort of manipulative sudsy blue plate where viewers making up their own minds is the least likely item on the menu.
Portman continues to venture into provocatively playing against gender stereotypes, following her intimacy-allergic sex addict venture just last week in No Strings Attached. She’s Emilia, a Harvard Law School grad with a lot more on her mind than depositions. Landing her first job at a Big Apple firm, Emilia has the irrepressible hots for her married boss, Jack (Scott Cohen).
Mutually flirtatious eye balling soon escalates into a torrid secret affair, but Jack is just not into commitment despite Emilia’s evidently whiny neediness. Wife Carolyn (Lisa Kudrow) is not the problem because she’s shrewish and bossy, how handy. It’s his guilty feelings of responsibility as a dad, with his vulnerable young son William (Charlie Tahan) back home.
But when Emilia suddenly announces her pregnancy, Jack bolts from his marriage in a flash, in no small part eased plot-wise by the conveniently caustic personality of his careerist, too busy for motherhood anyway gynecologist wife. Emilia, on the other hand, is dripping with maternal instinct and has domestic drudge written all over her. Even to the extent that the pregnant newlywed embraces her additional role as stepmom, in spite of the problem child being relentlessly beyond bratty. And to such an extreme that – the very opposite of her workaholic obsessed Black Swan however depraved – there’s not a single interlude conveying any sense whatsoever that this born to be a stay-at-home babe is actually a lawyer.
But unlike her No String Attached med student sexaholic, Portman’s stint here as subservient seductress has nothing to do with libido. Rather, an extra-judicial Exhibit A pop psychology rap sheet she’s stuck with, as a get even, extramarital-minded daughter of a dad who had abandoned her in childhood for a secretary and Russian stripper as well.
Directed by Don Roos (The Opposite Of Sex, Single White Female) and based on the Ayelet Waldman bestseller, Love And Other Possible Pursuits, the movie does have one memorable line. As Emilia perpetually pouts and sulks while consigned to the dismal role of that other woman, a girlfriend scolds her tendency to sound like she’s competing in the ‘Cliche Olympics.’
IFC Films Rated R 2 stars