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dir Denise Di Novi
scr David Johnson, Christina Hodson
prd Denise Di Novi, Alison Greenspan, Ravi D Mehta
with Rosario Dawson, Katherine Heigl, Geoff Stults, Whitney Cummings, Cheryl Ladd, Isabella Kai Rice, Robert Ray Wisdom, Simon Kassianides, Alex Quijano, Aline Elasmar, Jayson Blair, James Augustus Lee
release US/UK 21.Apr.17
17/US Warner 1h40
Women on the verge: Heigl and Dawson
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E|
This trashy melodramatic thriller is only occasionally intentional in its hilariously over-the-top nuttiness. It's all rather feeble, packed with characters who are sketched in with the barest of essential details and a plot that hinges on coincidence and miscommunication. But it's made in that slickly obvious style that lets the audience sit back, switch off their brains and have some fun with it.
After surviving a traumatic relationship, editor Julia (Dawson) has finally found happiness with dreamy micro-brewery owner David (Stults). So she uproots from San Francisco to suburban Southern California to start a new life with him and his daughter Lily (Rice). The problem is that David's ex Tessa (Heigl) is very much around, and is clearly threatened by Julia. Indeed, she begins a conniving plan to drive Julia round the bend while making her look like the nutcase. This includes setting up a violent encounter with Julia's ex (Kassianides), whose restraining order has just expired.
The echoes of classics like Fatal Attraction are obvious from the start, punched continually with ominous droning on the soundtrack every time Tessa appears. And Lily's hamster is looking nervous. The sense of dread increases when Tessa's imperious mother (Ladd) appears, humanising Tessa briefly by being the queen of all monstrous mothers. Meanwhile, the dopey David doesn't know whom to believe: the sexy woman he loves or the slinky mother of his child.
Performances are broadly expressive, making it clear who the audience should be rooting for. Heigl goes all out to get some sympathy as the woman scorned, although her psychopath credentials are never in doubt. That ironed-down hair and too-tight dresses are a dead giveaway. Dawson delivers a few moments of serious acting as a woman who is pushed right over the edge, but she'd be much more convincing if Julia made any sense at all.
It's simply impossible to believe that Julia and David are getting married, since they never speak about the most important events from their past while keeping new things unnecessarily secret from each other. But the script's much more pernicious assumption is that women much be at each others' throats all the time, simply can't get along, and can certainly never get over their former loves. If the entire movie wasn't so ludicrous, this might be deeply offensive. But we're too busy chortling at the corny excesses to worry about that.
|R E A D E R R E V I E W S|
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© 2017 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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