Saturday, November 8, 2014

The Women (1939)

IMDb plot summary: A study of the lives and romantic entanglements of various interconnected women.
Directed by George Cukor. Starring Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford, Rosalind Russell, and Mary Boland.

(Some spoilers about the plot and ending.)

There's a lot to like about this movie, but there's also a fair amount that rub me the wrong way. Our main character is unbelievably sympathetic and likable, and the scenes where she has to deal with her marriage falling apart were incredibly moving. Her story, at the heart of this movie, is well worth watching, and seeing her get some happiness at the end is satisfying for her sake, even if I'm uncertain that it'll last.

Where this movie doesn't work for me at all, however, is in many of the other women. Rosalind Russell's character in particular is just... everything I dislike in a character, man or woman. There's a lot of petty squabbling that doesn't make me laugh so much as it makes go, "Ugh. People are terrible." Because the movie includes a lot of these little scenes, it ends up dragging, especially in the second half when I *really* just wanted to get back to Mary's story. And I'm not sure I at all understood the technicolor fashion show that hijacked the film for a bit. What was that about? (I wonder if people who don't like musicals feel the same "Why would they put this here?" bewilderment when a movie has a single dance number out of nowhere...)

I didn't really pick up on the humor of this movie, as most of it came from the cattiness of the characters. What I liked was almost entirely the dramatic part of the plot, and that was tremendously satisfying. Other good things: having an all-woman cast was wonderful (I loved the creative ways they told the story through only the women), and the credits were imaginative and set the scene appropriately. I wish, however, that it included fewer subplots and was a little shorter.

3 stars.

Flickchart: #970 out of 2248, below Code 46 and above Runaway Jury. This is probably a bit too low.

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