A Good Woman

User Score
6.9

Generally favorable reviews- based on 11 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 6 out of 11
  2. Negative: 0 out of 11
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  1. MarkB.
    Feb 25, 2006
    8
    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 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 view...watch 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. Expand
  2. BobE.
    Feb 4, 2006
    8
    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 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. Expand
Metascore
53

Mixed or average reviews - based on 29 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 11 out of 29
  2. Negative: 1 out of 29
  1. 50
    Hunt's flat delivery is mercilessly cruel to Wilde's delicious epigrams. That sound you hear is Oscar spinning madly in his grave.
  2. 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.
  3. Reviewed by: Derek Elley
    50
    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.