Natalie Stendall’s Film Review: The Other Woman

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For every girl who has ever been cheated on, The Other Woman offers up the ultimate revenge fantasy.

Deluded wife, Kate (Leslie Mann), and her cheating husband’s gang of conned mistresses come up with painful, embarrassing and frequently gross methods to exact retribution on the Lothario in question, while finding life long pals in each other.

Enthusiastic performances, nauseating gags and long-winded set-ups make this a jumbled first attempt at straight comedy from director Nick Cassavetes whose filmography includes crime biography Alpha Dog and tear-jerking drama My Sister’s Keeper.

Poles apart from the saccharine true-love sentiment of Cassavete’s romance The Notebook, The Other Woman is a brutal take on relationships at middle age.

Think waxing, structured lingerie and Mission Impossible style double agents. It’s familiar ground. Sex And The City had this covered back in the early 2000s and Cassavetes’ attempts to re-imagine the material fails to deliver the quick fire laughs and refreshing honesty of Judd Apatow’s 2012 hit comedy, This is 40.

Cameron Diaz acts her heart out as the conned mistress, still looking for love at forty-plus and the reliable Leslie Mann enthusiastically resumes her familiar role as the cute but relatable spouse frustrated with her own life, yet The Other Woman fails to ignite a sense of female empowerment.

The problem is a routine script bursting with repetition and overused devices.

Mistress Carly (Cameron Diaz) can hardly utter a sentence without reminding us she “didn’t know he had a wife” and Cassevetes’ girly montage filler of the infuriated girls drinking, giggling and trying on shoes tell us bluntly that female rivalry is dead. It’s a fitting message but the delivery is lazy.

This could be forgiven if The Other Woman were actually funny but Cassavetes veers a little too close to his dramatic roots with lengthy expositions between the jokes.

Much of the film is spent waiting for plot and gags we already know are coming thanks to a trailer that steals clips from the movie’s later sequences.

When the comedy does arrive, an over-reliance on toilet humour - quite literally a diarrhoea scene that runs on far too long - silly spoofs and Mann’s whining, yelling and crying undermine the potential laughs.

Still, there are some flashes of brilliance in Cassavetes style - a distorted shot through a fish-eye peephole makes Mann seem even crazier and a shocked eaves dropper captured in a corner of the screen livens up a dull phone call.

By the time we get to hear from husband Mark (Nicolaj Coster-Waldau) his reaction to the plotting is turned up so high it collapses under its own weight.

It pays not to ask how Kate ended up with Mark in the first place and it’s anyone’s guess how he managed to juggle these three challenging women at all.

It’s a thankless role for Coster-Waldau who’s tested his dramatic mettle in Game Of Thrones and Norwegian thriller Headhunters only to be the butt of oestrogen pill, hair removal cream and laxative gags here, along with one shocking final humiliation.

Audiences have to wait almost two hours for this caricature of a man to get his comeuppance but the staggering pay off is a step too far. In Cassavetes’ untidy revenge comedy too many wrongs don’t make a right.

Certificate: 12A

Running Time: 109 minutes

Verdict: 2/5