Jungle
The Other Woman (BLU-RAY)
PAPER TO FILM:

The Other Woman is based off the novel Love and Other Impossible Pursuits written by Ayelet Waldman.

 We've all lost something dear to us in our lives. Whether it be a cherished item or a loved one close to our hearts, loss and sorrow is something that is universally known. Struggle of loss is a topic that is frequently visited in film, but what about the journey of accepting another into your life after suffering a loss? This journey is explored in The Other Woman.

Emilia Greenleaf (Academy Award Winner Natalie Portman) is picking up William (Charlie Tahan) from school. Their conversations and mannerisms resemble one of a child and their nanny: A person who is recognized, but serves little emotional connection. Yet, in reality, Emilia is William's step-mom. Having broke up the marriage of Jack (Scott Cohen) and Carolyne (Lisa Kudrow), Emilia found love in the charming Jack. William spends certain days with his father and Emilia but mostly lives with his mother, Carolyne. Carolyne is a sour woman with a ferocious tongue that easily matches her wits. Feeling as if she is losing her son to "the other woman", Carolyne has made Emilia enemy #1 and profusely tells her she is unfit to take care of a child. This, of course, proves effective seeing as how Emilia and Jack suffered the loss of their own newborn daughter only days after her birth. Attempting to cope with both the loss and gain of a child, Emilia is lost somewhere in between growth and grief. 

Hot off her well-deserved Oscar win for Black Swan, Natalie Portman is ready to lay low in this under-the-radar film. But don't let the distribution fool you, The Other Woman is a superbly effective film in more ways than one. The subject matter alone is simple enough to sympathize with, but Portman doesn't let the topic take all the glory. There's no award-winning performances here, yet every actor brings enough life to their characters to keep the story in fantastic pace and keep the audience emotionally invested. 

However, the addition of Lisa Kudrow is truly baffling. The case is obvious in nature: Lisa Kudrow has made a name for herself as an eccentric blonde with her role of Phoebe in the series, Friends. Her appearance is such recent films as Bandslam and Easy A is intended to change the mass opinion of the short range of Kudrow's acting. And for those films, it works. Sort of. But her appearance in The Other Woman is plain and simple wrong. Nothing against Kudrow personally, she's a fine actress. Her range and company is what hangs the noose for her performance. If the role of Carolyne had been played by more of an actress who could match Portman's intensity, The Other Woman would have no trouble finding theatrical release. Everything else is in place: Tragedy, suffer, growth, tension and rejoice. It would have been easy for The Other Woman to travel down the path of depressing drama pieces that so constantly fill made-for-television movies. Thankfully, the direction and performances steer it into a rare gem worth anyone's time. 

Credit where it's due, Kudrow makes a fine attempt at breaking out with a serious role. Unfortunately, she was pitted against Portman. And that's a fight that Kudrow will constantly lose. The Other Woman is a heartbreaking drama that sports great performances, along with a few surprises along the way. 

Ryan Sterritt
Review by Ryan Sterritt
Follow him @ Twitter
Friend him @ Facebook