Hot off her Oscar-winning performance in Black Swan - but before she actually won the prestigious award - Natalie Portman delivered another fine performance in a small, limited release drama called The Other Woman. While not original, the movie is a surprisingly effective tale of a young woman struggling to overcome the grief of losing her child - and another testament to Portman's acting ability.
In The Other Woman, Portman stars as Emilia, a legal associate who has an affair with senior partner Jack (Scott Cohen) and eventually marries him. As she attempts to manage relationships with her young stepson William (Charlie Tahan) and Jack's furious ex-wife (Lisa Kudrow), her own grief threatens to tear apart the lives of those around her.
Written and directed by Don Roos and based on the novel by Ayelet Waldman, The Other Woman looks and feels like plenty of other personal dramas that are released at the beginning of each year. A lost child. A second marriage. A relationship with a stepson. These elements are recycled over and over again, typically resulting in forgettable tales.
A year from now, no one will remember The Other Woman. It got lost in the shuffle, primarily because IFC Films didn't attempt to take advantage of Portman's pending Oscar nomination and win. IFC should have played it smart and released the movie a few months later. Instead, the movie is getting an unceremonious debut on Blu-Ray and DVD on May 17, 2011.
Aside from its release situation, though, The Other Woman is a surprisingly good movie. It begins a little rough, but once Roos dives into the various complexities of the story it becomes clear he's found the right recipe.
While the performances from all involved are solid, especially Kudrow in a supporting role (though haven't we seen her play the scorned ex-wife one too many times?), it's Portman who carries the film. Her performance is nuanced, but as the emotional layers stack higher and higher throughout the film, it becomes perfectly clear that Portman is still at the top of her game.
The Other Woman is a well made and engaging drama. It's a shame few people will see it.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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