Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5. USA, 2011. The Weinstein Company. Screenplay by Aline Brosh McKenna, based on the novel by Allison Pearson. Cinematography by Stuart Dryburgh. Produced by Donna Gigliotti. Music by Aaron Zigman. Production Design by Santo Loquasto. Costume Design by Renee Ehrlich Kalfus. Film Editing by Camilla Toniolo.
Sarah Jessica Parker is a successful trader at a financial investment firm who has a loving husband (Greg Kinnear) at home and two growing children. It’s the age of having it all and she has no intention of failing at any of it, though the challenges of keeping up with the demands at the office while making sure her daughter has a homemade pie to bring to the school bake sale eventually result in tardiness and unkempt hair during the day and an inability to communicate with her family at night. When trader superman Pierce Brosnan shows up and offers her the opportunity to move ahead in her field, a job which would require flying to him in New York twice a week, she realizes the pressure it will put on an already brittle situation but can’t turn down the opportunity, and why should she? Douglas McGrath’s adaptation of the novel by Allison Pearson does something that a lot of fluffier movies examining the “modern woman” don’t do, which is to ask why on earth someone who is already stressed out and overloaded should also feel guilty about ignoring the things that no one would expect her husband to feel bad about. There’s a point at which her inability to find the balance between aspects of her lives causes a rift between herself and Kinnear which is handled very intelligently, but balance is actually what the director and screenwriter lack even more than their lead character does. A film that mostly seems quite determined to portray a natural rhythm without any cuteness also throws in a few silly slapstick moments that are jarring, and fourth-wall-breaking interviews with supporting members of the cast that are superfluous and unnecessary (even though Olivia Munn, who is the best performance in the film, has the funniest moment when she explains why no one should end their messages with the letters “XO”). It feels like the film was drastically re-edited at the last minute after a studio panic over its initial flavour, and that’s a shame, particularly since it leaves Parker, who is a worthy screen lead, hanging in the balance and appearing as if she does not know what she’s doing (even though Parker has never actually not known what she was doing).