Critic’s Corner: ‘The Other Woman’

It’s 2014. It should be obvious that women are people.

Someone needs to inform Nick Cassavetes, director of “The Other Woman.”

The film focuses on three women who join forces in learning of their commonality: a cheating man. We begin the film with Carly (Cameron Diaz) utterly in love with a new man, Mark (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau). Mark seems like the perfect man, and (if you’ve somehow avoided the trailer) the audience believes that these two may be perfect for each other.

Yet, within about 20 minutes, we realize what Mark truly is: a married womanizer, whose poor wife Kate (Leslie Mann) is none the wiser until meeting Carly. While the two women initially want to avoid each other, they soon join forces and, upon finding Mistress #2 Amber (Kate Upton), begin to destroy Mark in every possible way.

While I completely support the destruction of a womanizer, the film primarily focuses on other aspects that make all 109 minutes depressing and irritating. Kate and Carly find out about one another within the first 20 minutes of the film, but it is not for another hour or so that we actually are able to root for the women. Instead, Carly has simply ceased communication with Mark—well done—but also refused to speak with Kate about the now-open affair—questionable. Kate does not address the affair directly with her husband and focuses her energy on finding out the truth of the situation from Carly, all while wanting to put the spark back in her marriage.

These actions, both on the part of Carly and Kate, make it appear normal for women to seem demure and forgiving, or simply bitchy, rather than show how terrible Mark’s actions truly are. We know that cheating and womanizing are wrong, but Mark is not, truthfully, our main focus in the film. We are caught up in the beauty and sadness that surround Mann and Diaz, and later Upton, causing us to forgive their semi-acceptance of Mark and Kate’s goal to change him.

Another facet of the film that makes it irritating is the lack of diversity. The story is set in New York City, yet our primary focus is on four “sexy” white people—three of whom are blonde. Even when the women go out to dinner or a bar, we barely see anyone that isn’t white and, if we do, they are in a service position. Sure, we all were excited when we saw Nicki Minaj in the trailer for the film, but her part on the big screen is relatively short. Plus, the main focus of Minaj is her looks, with the cinematographer and wardrobe department working extensively to show Minaj’s assets. In addition, Minaj’s dialogue primarily focuses on her own relationship and how she attained that relationship through her looks and cheating.

Cassavetes, who also directed “The Notebook” and “My Sister’s Keeper,” should know better than to deliver a film like this while avoiding what should be the main idea: none of these women need Mark. Mark is a tool. The fears these women place with their relationship with Mark are astonishing. Carly is getting older and wants a strong, stable relationship, which she believes she cannot have after discovering Mark’s infidelity. Kate doesn’t want to enter the dating scene again and is also insecure about how she can make a living without her husband.

Overall, the idea for this film would have been delightful. Hell, I would have cheered on this man’s destruction with happiness, rather than rolled my eyes at the women’s incompetence. Had a woman directed this film, rather than a man who has spent a large deal of his career on love stories, “The Other Woman” might be well-worth your time. However, the sad truth is that this ostensibly empowering film is shrouded in misogyny.

Grace Stetson

Currently in her third year at The Spectator, Grace Stetson is a junior at Seattle University majoring in English and Film Studies and minoring in Spanish. She hopes to use her experience from the paper in the journalism world after college, preferably with a Master's from Medill School of Journalism. Aside from all this writing business, Grace enjoys traveling, chai tea and adorable puppies.


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