‘A Good Woman’ is an Interesting Period Drama Romance

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I don’t really remember how my seeing this came to pass, but it would seem accurate that it was an “on a whim” rental. Later I found it at a going-out-of-business sale and decided to nab it at a low cost. a good woman

A Good Woman (2004) Film Review

The wealthy and influentially powerful follow society’s lead and go abroad for “the season.” Over the summer months one of the locales to bring out the cream of society is the Italian coast. Robert Windermere (Mark Umbers) and his young wife Meg (Scarlett Johansson) are yearlong newlyweds and quite happy; their marriage is based on mutual trust and love. Shortly after they arrive, a fellow American traveler enters their social circle.

Leaving scandal in her wake, Mrs. Erlynne (Helen Hunt) trades one gossip-laden society for another. She is penniless but she soon puts the village’s gossip mill to work. Nearly as soon as she arrives, she catches the eye of the dim-witted (by his own admission!) but very wealthy Tuppy (Tom Wilkinson). Robert’s friend Lord Darlington (Stephan Campbell-Moore) also mingles in Italy for the season. In his case, it’s Meg who unwittingly attracts him. Despite her efforts, he makes no secret of his affection thus setting in motion a series of events that could lead to ruin, and more than one broken heart.

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Seeing this the second time through, I’ve no doubt that I grew to like it even more. Oscar Wilde is one of my favorite playwrights when it comes to seeing his original work adapted into witty screenplays (An Ideal Husband, Importance of Being Earnest). This might be one of his lesser works, but it’s just as fun a story. Its better points set out to be a comedy but the viewer cannot see this until everything comes to a head at its close. So for that reason alone, a lot of the movie sets up like a mini mystery without really meaning to, and features some bang-up talent in the meantime.

a good woman
‘A Good Woman’ is an Interesting Period Drama Romance. A review of the 2004 drama with Scarlett Johanson. #PeriodDrama #Throwback #Movies #Romance Click To Tweet

Who’d guess pairing such an ensemble together would work magic? Somehow it works to the movie’s advantage and every single subplot works like clockwork. There is a little twist nearer the end and even though it isn’t hard to figure out, it essentially “makes” the movie and alleviates the disdain growing for certain characters; nearly all of whom are at least likable, if not completely trustworthy. a good woman

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Unfortunately, even with a lesser rating, this isn’t age-appropriate for everyone. It does explore some interesting dilemmas like the cost of telling a lie in a relationship previously open and honest or the fact that this is counseled against; the argument being since she made the mistake, and it was her choice, she, and no one else, should bear the “burden” of such a mistake.

Its costuming is nothing to sneeze at, and many of the pieces are truly gorgeous. The hats and lightweight summer costume design is among some of the most beautiful, even compared to BBC masterpieces. I truly do enjoy this drama, originally known as Mrs. Windermere’s Fan, and am glad to find something I think I’ll be glad to see on a repeat viewing every now and again. Pacing is slow, but never so that we feel bored with the ideas. Its script is witty and tolerably clever without being too full of itself and in the end, it disproves something we’ve all been guilty of doing – forming incorrect first impressions.

Rating: 3 out of 5.
‘A Good Woman’ is an Interesting Period Drama Romance. A review of the 2004 drama with Scarlett Johanson. Text © Rissi JC

Note: this review was published in the archives five or more years earlier. Since moving to WordPress, 90% of the reviews, lists and articles need re-formats and/or other updates. Updated edits and changes to fit current formats have been made; it has also been updated with new photos, and republished.

Originally published July 12 2012

Content: Lots of conversation revolves around affairs; one woman is said to have slept with nearly everyone’s husband and a man attempts to seduce a married woman [kisses, promises of love, etc.]. Some immodest dress and there’s drinking is in several scenes; someone gets a punch. Several scenes are sensual. A married couple lie in bed with sheets over them in a post-sex scene; one man wants to stay the night with his companion but she sends him away. [Although married, someone nearly runs off with another.] A Good Woman is PG.

About Rissi JC

amateur graphic designer. confirmed bookaholic. bubbl’r enthusiast. critical thinker. miswesterner. social media coordinator. writer.

10 comments

  1. I was very surprised when I watched this one… I loved it!!! It was funny and well done… And I loved Scarlett Johanssen… I really enjoy Oscar Wilde adaptions… I need to read more of his plays… lol ;)

  2. Tory – this one really grew on me after a second viewing. I liked it a lot after the first time but even more the 2nd!

    Scarlett is a good actress. My mother doesn't really like her but we've both loved everything we've seen her in (with exception to Scoop).

    Wilde is great! I love each of the adaptations I've seen. He has great humor! :-)

    Charity – me, too. :-)

    Ruth – as do I. Like you, I really should watch it again! :-)

  3. *gasp*

    You've not seen this one, TJ!? You absolutely must. :-) It is really a comedy disguised as a "tragic" love triangle… although in the end, nothing is really tragic. Everyone ends up just where (and with who!) they should.

    Enjoy!

  4. I think this is another one that really grows on you – it's not quite Importance of Being Ernest/An Ideal Husband standard but the more I watch it the more I enjoy it – and I totally agree it's well worth it for the costumes, actors and location of course! :)

  5. You are so right, Sarah. This one does have a different "vibe" but it's equally entertaining. I love that its 'real' purpose is hidden. It is really a comedy but it doesn't come across that way.

    All in all, it is unique and as you say, definitely grows on the viewer.

  6. This looks like an interesting movie. I'm not really big on dramas, though. I'm an action shoot em up movie kinda girl. ;)

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE your new header! "Firework" happens to be one of my current favorite songs. ;)

  7. This is a fun one, Rachel. It keeps you holding your breath but not in the usual ways an action flick would. Still, it puts out some decent twists and is generally a unique movie.

    Thanks! I am having such fun creating these – and will probably have a new one up soon. ;-) Until recently I'd not heard the entire run of "Firework" but yeah… I totally love it!

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