Follow us on

Featured Blu-ray / DVD Review: The Other Woman

June 16th, 2011

The Other Woman - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray

Natalie Portman certainly has been seen a lot in theaters this year with five releases in the first five months. However, only one of those films, Thor, was able to earn overall positive reviews. And while The Other Woman wasn't the weakest release of the group in terms of reviews, it did struggle the most at the box office. Was this justified? Or was it unfairly overlooked?

The Movie

Natalie Portman stars as Emilia, who is the second wife of Jack, and whom we meet waiting to pick up William, her eight-year old step-son from school. Being 'the other woman', the other mothers stare and talk about her behind her back. Her day gets worse when Sonia, William's nanny, arrives with orders from Carolyn, William's mother. Carolyn obviously hates Emilia and is using Sonia as a proxy to attack Emilia. And when William gets out of class, he's more excited to see Sonia than Emilia. Although, once you see the two interact, it's not surprising, as they are pretty nasty to each other. It gets even worse when they get home and William references Emilia’s recently deceased infant daughter in a way that is less than sympathetic. We are less than ten minutes into the movie and we already getting the idea that this family goes beyond dysfunctional.

The film then flashbacks to before Emilia and Jack were married and when Emilia was the new paralegal at the law firm where Jacked worked. It's pretty clear that the marriage between Jack and Carolyn is not a warm one. While doing research on a case in Oakland, Jack and Emilia start an affair, which continues after Jack gets a divorce and after Emilia gets pregnant, at which time they get married. However, when their daughter dies of SIDS, Emilia blames herself and their relationship falls apart.

This film has been described as a melodrama by a number of critics, and while that term is not technically an insult, it is clearly used as an insult here. Melodramas are movies (or plays) that are driven by interpersonal interactions, but can also be used to describe exaggerated interpersonal conflicts in order to get an emotional reaction from the audience. Both definitions apply here. In the first part of the film nearly every character interaction is negative. Emilia and William don't get along. Emilia and Jack's marriage is falling apart due to the death of their daughter. Carolyn hates Emilia for destroying her marriage. Not only that, but every time someone tries to help Emilia deal with the death of her daughter, she reacts extremely negatively and in the process drives away her family and friends. Granted, none of these conflicts are unreasonable, but it's a little much to take over the course of a 102-minute movie. By the time Emilia and William start bonding, it's a little too late for the film.

That's not to say there's nothing to recommend here. The performance by Natalie Portman is worth watching, while the small moments of humor and charm really stand out. But too much of the film is oppressive as a whole.

The Extras

There are no extras on the DVD. And while I don't have the Blu-ray to judge the film's technical presentation, it's not a movie that needs to be seen in High Definition. Plus, the price on is nearly twice as much as it is for the DVD.

The Verdict

The Other Woman has a strong central performance by Natalie Portman and the rare tender moments between her character and William were the highlight of the movie. Sadly, there are not enough of those for a full recommendation and I would stick with a rental, especially with no extras on either the DVD or the Blu-ray.

- Submitted by:

Filed under: Video Review, The Other Woman