I just watched the 2008 remake of Cukor’s The Women again. One of the nice things about this movie is that they’re not all supermodels. I can identify with some of them—they’re ordinary-looking, with faces that tell you more about their character than about their makeup choices.
Both versions of The Women are remarkable because every single member of the cast is female. Not just the principals, not just the bit players, but the extras, the crowds in the crowd scenes, the clerks in the stores and the waitresses in the restaurants, the random soul in the elevator, the random bodies in the gym.
It’s extraordinary. You have a chance to think about what you think of each character. You notice how human they all are. It takes longer to watch the movie, somehow. You just…take your thumb off the fast-forward button.
<I just remembered that I own Cukor’s The Women!>
Someone said, “It’s really all about the men” and they were right. From the spa in the first sequence to Norma Shearer in that final shot, stretching out her hands, floating toward her (off-camera) husband with an expression of trembly joy…yeah, it was about the men.
Diane English’s remake is about the friends. It’s still about stinking rich women of New York, all status and jewelry and servants and leisured lives and glamorous jobs. Theirs is not a world I relate to—it’s like an Olivia Goldsmith novel come to the screen. But the story grabs me and English’s characters appeal to me.
<scurrying off to IMDB for information>
Boy, I just read the reviews on IMDB.com. Lot of haters there. Every one of the reviews I read prefers the old to the new version. They’re all so angry about the new one.
<Now I have to watch the Cukor version!>
I’m watching the Cukor version now. Funny, I remembered liking it. But this time through I find it really unpleasant, overacted, and overwritten. The women are despicable and the comedy is cruel slapstick. It’s as if someone who didn’t like women hired some really good actresses to play drag queens who are playing unpleasant women. You walk out saying, “Aren’t women awful!” in a pleased sort of way.
Whereas the new movie is for women. I don’t feel icky after I’ve watched it.
Oh well, chacun à son goût.
Tell me which one you prefer and why.
*PS, do you recognize Carrie Fisher in the 2008 remake? I didn’t either. Notice that she’s made up to look like Death, and her manner is as serpentine as if she were offering Annette Bening an apple.