A Good Woman (PG)
Time Out says‘I’m infamous and poor,’ shrugs upper-crust margin-flitter Mrs Erlynne (Helen Hunt). Thick-skinned but hardly vampiric, this professional mistress suggests what Lily Bart of ‘The House of Mirth’ might have become in early middle age if only she’d had a bit more luck and a tad fewer scruples. In this 1930s update of Oscar Wilde’s ‘Lady Windermere’s Fan’, Mrs Erlynne descends upon a sleepy Italian village with her sights trained on tremulous young Lady Windermere (Scarlett Johansson), in hopes of emotionally loaded financial gain. Cue lush picture-postcard establishing shots, much retail therapy and a steady peppering of Wildean bon mots. Hunt’s performance is too dithery and wheedling for a practical-minded seductress, and Barker adds insult to miscast injury by filming her aquiline visage so unflatteringly. Otherwise pleasant and unexpectedly moving, ‘A Good Woman’ takes its cue from the opening image of ‘Lost in Translation’ as an unabashed ode to Scarlett’s yummy booty. Barker would follow her anywhere, just to watch her walk away.
Fri May 13, 2005