Movie Review: 'The Other Woman' (2014)

Chaotic mischief is the name of the game in director Nick Cassavetes latest. "The Other Woman" is a female empowerment film without any real empowerment, it manages to play its punchline briefly before stalling out. Audiences have seen this storyline before, a cad gets caught and the women team up for revenge (i.e. “John Tucker Must Die”). The hook in this foray is that the women become friends or at least that's what the trailer implied.

When the uptight Kate (Leslie Mann) learns that Carly (Cameron Diaz) has unwittingly been carrying on an affair with her husband (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), she desperately clings to her hoping to learn why her husband cheated. The selling feature of the two's growing friendship was the linchpin of the trailer and in the actual film, it hardly comes to fruition.

As Kate busily fixates on Carly, it is clear the feeling is unrequited and there is no understanding as to why that really changes. There are no quiet moments of reflection where Carly (Diaz) seems to respond with mutual friendliness and it is understandable why. 

Kate (Mann) never grows from the irrationally crazed mess she is when Carly first meets her. The whole storyline is wash, rinse and repeat of Kate crying about her circumstances, getting drunk with Carly and stalking her husband with no concrete objective.

Where Diaz’s earlier film "The Sweetest Thing" captured the nuances of female friendship, "The Other Woman" makes a mockery of it. The characters in this film are thrown together out of a shared circumstance, and the positive aspect of a blossoming friendship seems more of a contrived oddity than anything genuine. To call what they share by the end of the film, a friendship is entirely disingenuous. There is no give and take.

Kate simply takes the whole time. Making matters worse is the bold dissimilarity between the two main characters which is never played for laughs. Diaz is never the straight woman to Mann’s outrageous antics. She puts out the fires and not much else. They lack any cohesive balance as a screen pairing, drastically damaging the film.

It does not help the script that all of the characters represent a quintessential stereotype that is exploited as the film’s main running joke. Carly is the tough-nosed businesswoman who does not have time for men, except in the casual sense.

Kate is the neurotic, "1-percenter" housewife. Amber (Kate Upton) is the "young naive blonde." Mark is the deplorable womanizing, scam artist. There is no depth to any of these caricatures. They simply exist to be made fun of, to laugh at, instead of with.

As the film loses focus on the element of women not turning against one another in the scandal of infidelity, it turns to the women getting even. On a filmmaking level, Cassavetes loses his grip as scenes veer out of any sense of comedic rhythm and gags that were not funny to begin with, continue ad nauseam. The giant dog and Kate’s anxious outbursts are among the biggest offenders.

Another issue is the hollow soundtrack during scenes of dialogue, only to have an abounding number of music montages which add nothing to the overall narrative and instead feel like vapid time-fillers. Cassavetes, whose dramatic projects have been spectacular, falters with the comedic elements necessary to fuel this one.

Cameron Diaz and Leslie Mann have had better to work with script-wise though they do their best with what they are given. In the end, the film’s redemption lies with the charismatic performance of “Game of Thrones” star Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and the likable turn of Taylor Kinney in a brief appearance.

Despite the film being rather hackneyed, the revenge angle is gratifying in the final showdown. “The Other Woman” is far from complicated, thinly entertaining and most of all, a wasted opportunity. Rating: 6.2/10

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