30 April 2015

A Good Woman (starring Helen Hunt and Scarlett Johansson)

This is another DVD which I had not heard of, but which Amazon recommended to me. Possibly this is because I like ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’; I didn’t really know anything about the actors in it. I was given it for my recent birthday, and had forgotten, until I glanced at the back, that it’s based on one of Oscar Wilde’s books, ‘Lady Windermere’s Fan’.

The start of ‘A Good Woman’, which is set in 1930, is a bit confusing. The elegant Mrs Erlynne (Helen Hunt) escapes New York after running up a series of debts; it’s clear from the comments around her that she’s had a series of affairs with married men. She decides to go to the Amalfi coast. Lord and Lady Windermere, a young and devoted married couple (Scarlett Johanssen and Mark Umbers) are there too for the season, and another young man, the charming Lord Darlington (Stephen Cambpell Moore) flirts with Lady Windermere.

All set in upper-class society, with everyone speaking in the same accent and dressing the same kind of way, it was rather hard to tell who was whom at times. I did find myself wondering whether it was going to be worth watching, but gradually it started to make more sense.

Mrs Erlynne seems to be attracted to young Lord Windermere, and he starts visiting her house, much to the consternation - and delight - of the locals, who are convinced they are having an affair. Lady Windermere has no idea at first, until she discovers that he’s been writing some rather large cheques…

It’s something of a comedy of errors, with lots of asides and implications, secret assignations and hints that are not explained until the end. It’s quite a clever plot, and although I’d heard of the Wilde play, I didn’t know the story. The fan - a generous gift from Lady Windermere’s husband - plays a significant part in the story, leading to near disaster towards the end.

It’s light and a bit fluffy, amusing in places, poignant in a few. The scenery is good, the acting sound, the pace about right. We had wanted to watch something that didn’t require too much thought, and which wouldn’t leave us drained with emotion, and ‘A Good Woman’ fit the bill nicely; it was quite uplifting in the end.

The PG rating is reasonable enough; there’s no bad language, no violence and no bedroom scenes. However the storyline is about the affairs of the upper classes and there are plenty of implications; still, I can’t imagine anyone under the age of about fourteen being interested in this.

Review by copyright 2015 Sue's DVD Reviews

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