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Look out for more coverage of
The Women in our magazines

THE MOVIE: The Women

THE STARS:
Meg Ryan • Annette Bening • Eva Mendes • Cloris Leachmen • Debi Mazar • Jada Pinkett Smith • Bette Midler • Candice Bergen • Debra Messing
DIRECTOR: Diane English

The Women  - Jada Pinkett Smith, Annette Bening, Meg Ryan and Debra Messing THE CONCEPT:
Based on George Cukorís 1939 movie, the updated version centers around Mary Haines (Ryan), who discovers by means of a gossipy manicurist, Tanya (Mazar), that her husband is cheating on her with a perfume saleswoman, Crystal (Mendes). Her best friends, Sylvie (Bening), Edie (Messing) and Alex (Smith) close ranks around her, each offering opinions about what she should do.

U.S. RELEASE: September 12 2008, Nationwide
• Rated: PG-13

THE COMMENTS:

DIANE ENGLISH:
Diane EnglishIt took almost 14 years [to get this to the screen] and one of the reasons it took as long as it did is because itís an all-female cast. The nature of the movie industry now is that it caters to young men under 25 and they go to movies multiple times. Weíve always believed if you give women something of themselves onscreen thatís meaningful, they will come and theyíll come in big numbers, and I think the box office of several movies this summer has bourn that out and weíll have a nice, healthy box office too.

MEG RYAN:
Meg Ryan and Annette BeningThere are certain observations that I thought were interesting in the movie. Sometimes we disagreed on whether [Mary] should stay or go in the marriage. One thing from reading the script I appreciated, Diane was trying to make a case for both with the X factor being the fact that she was in love with her husband. When this occurs in a womanís life, itís an enormous thing to happen. Your husband is cheating on you. What do you do? Who are your allies? Who comes to your aid? All of these things are relevant and equally true now. Itís just a different observation on an age-old trouble.

ANNETTE BENING:
It was fun to play a businesswoman, a woman who wasnít a mother. I really liked playing a woman who wasnít conflicted about not having children. I have friends who havenít had children who are so free. I thought it would be refreshing to have a woman who wasnít torn about not having children, she just didnít want them.

EVA MENDES:
Eva MendesDiane and I talked about bringing some fun to Crystal. We didnít want to vamp her out and make her this evil woman with an arched eyebrow. We wanted to realize that she was actually just very desperate. Sheís not a bad person. Her time is running out. Sheís not a husband stealer like Iím gonna get you. Sheís more like, ĎLook, Mary Haines, youíve had your fun. Youíve had money all your life. You have your kid with this guy. You have your house. Let me have a piece of the pie. After a few years, youíll get him back.í We came at it that way and I had more fun playing her.

DEBI MAZAR:
I auditioned for this 13 years ago, and Diane cast me 13 years later without seeing me, Iíd had two kids; Iíd changed. The fact that she called me and gave me the part, thatís women supporting women. Itís a lot more fun hanging around this lot than boys!

ENGLISH:
The old movie has iconic scenes in it and I lifted a lot of those almost word-for-word so that fans of the original movie will see things that are touchstones that theyíll recognize.

MENDES:
Iíd seen the movie before because itís a classic. Iíve gotten a lot of questions today like, ĎHow was it to fill Joan Crawfordís shoes?í And Iím like, ĎI didnít even try to fill Joan Crawfordís shoes. Donít put that in my head.í Itís nerve-wracking because sheís Joan Crawford. My God! She killed it as Crystal Allen. It was one of those things where I didnít allow the original to intimidate, because that was its own thing. We were doing our own thing.

BENING:
Iím really lucky because I have such wonderful friends, close girlfriends in my life. Some of them are from when I was little and we used to play pretend together, and I have stayed close to them. A number of girls from college and my acting conservatory are my dear, close friends. Thereís a kind of sustenance that you get from your female friends that is so unique.

RYAN on successful women in a marriage:
I think itís definitely something women deal with still. When a woman is eclipsing a man in the marketplace it definitely is trouble in a relationship. Itís something that needs to be coped with as intelligently as you can.

ENGLISH:
The tagline on the original movie is "The Women is all about men." Ours is, "ĎItís all about the women." I think our girlfriends are so important to us as modern women. They get us through so much. In the end, itís about two women with a great friendship and they go through a breakup. Thereís a betrayal there just like there is in the marriage. I want you to care more about whether there is forgiveness there, and whether that can be repaired, than actually the marriage. The fact that this movie hadnít been done in 70 years, the fact that people said it couldnít be done again made us want to get it done.

Written by Judy Sloane. Back to top

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Feature © 2008 Visual Imagination.
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Film Review, #699, August 2008 cover

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