Ayelet Waldman, and he is blessed to have the collaboration of Natalie Portman in the title role. Still looking only a few years older than her debut in The Professional, Ms Portman uses her sly combination of charm and reticence -- and, oh my, yes, beauty -- to ingratiate herself to the other characters, as much as to us viewers before allowing us to see all the areas in which her character has not quite grown up and yet has taken on a load -- assumed home-wrecker, second wife, stepmother -- for which she's simply not ready. Yet.
Black Swine, er, Swan. Though without the ballet, biting, blood and faux lesbian sex, it's unlikely that The Other Woman will turn into quite such a box-office bonanza. Portman's Emilia is both a rich character and a complete one, and the movie that surrounds her asks its viewers to open up to things -- helpful or not -- just as its heroine must do.
Charlie Tahan, shown at near right) is lots of fun without ever losing its believability. Content-wise, The Other Woman at times seems like an updated version of those 30s melodramas with heroines you can root for who nonetheless need to learn their lessons. Stylisticaly, the filmmaker handles flashbacks with an appropriate flash, while obtaining quick, finely-drawn performances from his entire supporting cast.
Scott Cohen (above, right) is exemplary: an older, serious counterpoint to Portman's goofy grace, energy and occasional self-pity. By the end, it's Cohen who has given the movie much of the weight it has accrued.
Anthony Rapp (above left) and Lauren Ambrose (above, right) bring humor, smarts and individuality to fairly stock characters.
Lisa Kudrow (left) adds another smart performance to her gallery of indelible supporting turns. This actress is always so good, it's little wonder she's used again and again with each new year. Out on DVD/Blu-Ray now are two of her good movies from last year: Paper Man (in which she's used in a middling manner) and Easy A (in which she's been given a terrific supporting role). Here, she's icy and then angry, and the scene in which she's allowed to have a moment of actual feeling for the woman who's wronged her is a fine one indeed. Kudrow excels at nasty, but she's even better when she's allowed to combine this with the other layers that make up our individuality.
Also in the cast are Debra Monk and Michael Christopher (who is as good here as I think I've ever seen him), playing the Portman character's parents. There's a lot of talent both on-view and behind the camera, plus the occasional lovely visual (as below: the DP is Steve Yedlin ). In short: you'll find plenty to make The Other Woman worth watching.