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:: A Good Woman

This is a clever adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s “Lady Windermere’s Fan” and set on the beautiful Amalfi Coast in Italy. Director Mike Barker relocates the scene to 1930. Lady Margaret (Meg) Windermere (Scarlett Johansson) is honeymooning in Amalfi with her wealthy husband Robert (Mark Umbers) and quickly fits into the community and the gossip-fuelled gatherings.

The man-eater and golddigger of the Italian town is Stella Erlynne (Helen Hunt). She had been driven pout of America after seducing one husband too many. Robert becomes a new target for her attention. The town had been speculating about her next target and one of the locals spots Robert paying her a clandestine visit. Has he succumbed to her charms? All this while the confident Lord Darlington (Stephen Campbell Moore) is intent on seducing the naive Meg.

The gorgeous Mediterranean scenery is a pleasure to view as a backdrop to local observances and the society goings-on. Of the local cast, Milena Vukotic excels as Contessa Lucchino. She has starred in numerous Italian comedies and is part of this delicious social universe. She plops her nose into the affairs of others and many of the folk lust for her information.

One of the other distinguished and likeable characters is Tuppy (Tom Wilkinson), a lord-like figure who is smitten by Stella. Tuppy is a warm and moving character – so much gusto – and typical of the fine acting throughout the film.

With an excellent screenplay and the gorgeous scenery, the performances are propelled to top-class. Helen Hunt is made for the role of Stella and she delivers a credible and involving performance. Perhaps she could have vamped it up a little more for an even better look. Scarlett Johansson is magnetically beautiful and radiant. She expresses the naivety and vulnerability easily without being melodramatic. The only thing some may consider is whether two British actresses should have been chosen for the leading female roles. In my opinion, the influential performances by Hunt and Johansson do not diminish the occasion at all.

The wit and wisdom of Wilde’s first popular success is transformed beautifully into an intelligent story that shows intriguing ways to capture the issues of fidelity and accepted opinions. The film looks superb and is most enjoyable.