Mixed or average reviews - based on 29 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 11 out of 29
  2. Negative: 1 out of 29
Watch On
  1. All in all, A Good Woman retains ye olde Wilde's zing, his sense of pace and place, but most of all his snappy one-liners, and it finds a new way to showcase them brilliantly.
  2. Reviewed by: Ken Fox
    Amazingly, not all of the witty and wise barbs are Wilde's, and any confusion between the old and the new is probably the highest compliment one could possibly pay to screenwriter Howard Himelstein's tart screenplay.
  3. 75
    The movie succeeds because screenwriter Howard Himelstein keeps Wilde's best lines intact and the actors speak the words with practiced confidence.
  4. Wilkinson artfully deepens a character who in Wilde's original play was rather boobish. It's a marvelous performance in a pretty good film.
  5. 75
    A witty and engaging bit of fluff about sex, scandal, idleness, gossip, blackmail, guilty secrets and, most surprisingly, redemption.
  6. The movie is gorgeous to look at, the script has a killer twist and the cast is competent.
  7. Director Mike Barker elicits a marvelously agile performance from Hunt, who's well matched by Tom Wilkinson as her new admirer.
  8. Reviewed by: Phil Hall
    A pleasant diversion which mixes snatches of Wilde's waspish humor with a stylish Art Deco environment. The result is amusing to the ears and easy on the eyes.
  9. Hunt, whose flutelike voice makes music of Wilde's dialogue, has the most difficult role. While she acquits herself honorably, she nudges her lines a little too broadly, as if she's worried that the audience will miss the double meanings and wordplay.
  10. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    For the most part, Wilde's sophisticated, sardonic dialogue has been capably adapted by screenwriter Howard Himelstein and director Mike Barker.
  11. I watched A Good Woman with a fixed smile frequently interrupted by giggles, but I didn't believe a second of it.
  12. 60
    Pleasant and undemanding, all the more so whenever Tom Wilkinson's on-screen as a possible Erlynne suitor, the movie miscasts Hunt as the pragmatic seductress.
  13. 50
    Hunt's flat delivery is mercilessly cruel to Wilde's delicious epigrams. That sound you hear is Oscar spinning madly in his grave.
  14. While screenwriter Howard Himelstein and director Mike Barker have done a workable job of drawing the Wilde social satire out of the drawing room, the film never quite manages to travel at the same buoyant velocity as the acerbic wit.
  15. Reviewed by: Derek Elley
    Has a script that plays more like a period romancer studded with occasional Wilde-isms and gets uneven treatment from a mixed Anglo-American cast.
  16. 50
    The trick to staging Wilde is to hint at the gravity beneath the witticisms. A Good Woman barely even gets the witticisms out, though it does contain Wilde's line about people being either tedious or charming.
  17. Reviewed by: Michael Phillips
    A tedious picture, redeemed in part by Tom Wilkinson's performance as Tuppy--he's the sole cast member who doesn't give birth to every epigram--and by the hats.
  18. The film is well intentioned and mildly diverting, but in attempting to modernize its story it has lost many of the things that make the original so memorable and not gained much in return.
  19. When put into the mouths of American actors with no feel for Wilde's high-toned repartee, they simply hang in the air and die.
  20. 50
    Johansson never looked more beautiful, nor gave a lamer performance, than in A Good Woman.
  21. The real fault with this movie lies less with the clunky screenplay from Himelstein than with the acting, of which there is very little of note.
  22. Something is wrong with A Good Woman: The lightning never strikes. It's never quite alive.
  23. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    A Good Woman is pretty to look at and fakes witty elegance passably, so consider it a diversion -- a movie that might have been in the Oscar race if the elements had jelled but has instead been properly hung out to dry in February.
  24. 50
    This is one of those movies destined to be watched by family groups who can't agree on what to see: You'll all get a few chuckles, and then it's home for dessert.
  25. With the two American actresses miscast, and the two young British lads behaving like a couple of "Brideshead Revisited" rejects, most of the dramatic heavy lifting is left to veteran English actor Wilkinson.
  26. Hunt and Johansson, two usually good actresses, are vapidly awful, teetering out of their elements in this shakily drawn period piece.
  27. 40
    Stephen Campbell Moore is miserably out of his depth as the playboy trying to tempt Scarlett, leaving poor Tom Wilkinson to sound a lone note of sophisticated intelligence.
  28. With its jellyfish direction, A Good Woman throws its actors overboard to see if they can swim.
  29. British director Mike Barker and magpie New York screenwriter Howard Himelstein, have taken "Lady Windermere's Fan" - Wilde's first big stage success, written in 1892 - and pulped it senseless in the name of puttin' on the charm.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 10 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 2 out of 3
  2. Negative: 0 out of 3
  1. MarkB.
    Feb 25, 2006
    Benjamin Franklin and Ronnie McDowell have written or sung the praises of older women, and Oscar Wilde joins in. The fact that I now have to Benjamin Franklin and Ronnie McDowell have written or sung the praises of older women, and Oscar Wilde joins in. The fact that I now have to refer to Helen Hunt as an "older woman" indicates that I'M getting old myself much more quickly than I'd like, but in this enjoyable transplanting of Wilde's famous play Lady Windemere's Fan (from dining room Britain to America and Italy; from 1892 to 1930), she plays a woman with a highly checkered past who seeks a new start, meets a young married couple ( Mark Umbers and Scarlett Johansson), and appears to be sinking her claws into the husband...but things turn out to be both more and less than what they seem. A smooth, good-looking piece about infidelity, gossip, parental devotion and why it is that whenever two women show up at a social function wearing the same dress, the other guests had best duck and cover, A Good Woman is loaded with Wildean epigrams dealing with vanity, lust and the emotional differences between men and women that are so familiar that they're now part of our culture several generations post-Wilde...but that doesn't stop them from being immensely entertaining as played by such an attractive cast. Hunt, as the predatory but vulnerable Mrs. Erlynne, gives the first great movie performance I've seen in 2006. An actress who played straightwoman to Jack Nicholson in James L. Brooks's 1997 dramedy As Good As It Gets and to Paul Reiser in the long-running TV sitcom Mad About You, and did so with such effortless grace and charm that she won an Oscar and a bucket of Emmys, Hunt later suffered a bit of a backlash when four movies she was featured in (Cast Away, What Women Want, Dr. T and the Women, Pay It Forward) were released within a few months of each other. (I honestly don't know why; she was fine in all of them, and Peter Sarsgaard, Heath Ledger and A Good Woman co-star Johansson have been equally or more ubiquitous lately.) Here, Hunt more than lives up to this movie's title designation; the very real panic behind her seemingly sophisticated and brittle veneer is never far out of her ask Johansson how she looks in a sexy gown in a manner that suggests she's desperate for approval, or how she gobbles a sandwich in a way that indicates that she's not sure any other men will ever treat her to lunch again. All of this turns A Good Woman from a pleasant, highly watchable comedy of manners to a surprisingly effective 1930s-style weeper with a truly satisfying twist. Humble suggestion: perhaps a smart producer will wait a couple years and then do another remake of Tennessee Williams's A Streetcar Named Desire with Hunt in the central role. She'd make an incredibly affecting Blanche DuBois. Full Review »
  2. JuanM.
    Feb 21, 2006
    It's been a long time since I saw a movie so plain and obvious like this one. Helen Hunt couldn't have been worst miscast, and the It's been a long time since I saw a movie so plain and obvious like this one. Helen Hunt couldn't have been worst miscast, and the ending is, simply, utterly un-climatic. Full Review »
  3. BobE.
    Feb 4, 2006
    Not a perfect film, and I'm sure the snotty-by-profession critics can find fault, especially with everyone's acting (with the Not a perfect film, and I'm sure the snotty-by-profession critics can find fault, especially with everyone's acting (with the exception of Tom Wilkerson's) but much of beauty and value comes through. First I think the actors, the screenwriter, and the director believed in the project and wanted Wilde's essential message to get through. And that is that in spite of all the deception between lovers, and subsequent cynicism in the world (so wittily expressed in Wilde's dialogue) love is possible between men and women - and can actually happen. Also the mature, self-sacrificing love of a mother for her daughter is protrayed with a lovely sadness by Helen Hunt. I believe many actual human beings, i.e. unprofessional filmgoers, will enjoy this movie, specifically the plot twists and suspense, the scenery, the cars, the romantic and sexy dresses, and the hats - especially the hats. Full Review »