The Other Woman (2014)

The Other Woman
Director: Nick Cassavetes
Writer: Melissa Stack
Cast: Cameron Diaz, Leslie Mann, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Don Johnson, Kate Upton, Taylor Kinney, Nicki Minaj
Seen on: 16.5.2020

Content Note: sexism, possible transmisogyny, racism

Carly (Cameron Diaz) is usually all business and has no time for love. But Mark (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) somehow made it into her life anyway – and she’s ready for him to meet her father Frank (Don Johnson). But when he cancels the meeting on short notice because of plumbing problems at his house, Carly decides to surprise him there – only to find Kate (Leslie Mann), Mark’s wife. When Kate realizes what’s happening, she finds that she only has Carly to talk to and to understand what it’s like to get cheated on by Mark. They start plotting their revenge together, especially when they find out that Mark has been seeing Amber (Kate Upton), too.

The Other Woman is a nice take where the cheating dude gets his due and the women don’t get the blame for once. But they could have made more of that premise, I thought, both with regard to the basically-feminist message and the comedy.

The film poster showing Carly (Cameron Diaz) standing stiffly as Kate (Leslie Mann) and Amber (Kate Upton) cling to her.

It’s a thing that has always bothered me when a man cheats on his wife/girlfriend and the blame somehow lands at the feet of the woman he cheated with instead of him. How come, she becomes the home-wrecker and not him? It never made sense to me, not even as a kid when I didn’t call myself a feminist or gave much thought to these sexist double-standards. So, that this film tackles that is nice.

But it’s clear to see that the film isn’t interested in all of the sexism that underlies this double-standard. The criticism doesn’t really go further than that. Instead of dismantling, or at least really criticizing, sexist structures, the film is more interested in petty revenge and the women start to dismantle this one asshole. That they do this in an often incredibly infantile way (make him shit is pants, hahaha) doesn’t help. And I’m still debating with myself whether force-feeding Mark estrogen to humiliate him (by turning him into a woman, hahaha) is just sexist or also transmisogynistic. I’m leaning towards both.

Carly (Cameron Diaz), Kate (Leslie Mann) and Amber (Kate Upton) at the beach.

Given that the film is also very, very, incredibly white to begin with – the only POC in it who gets to say things is Carly’s assistant Lydia (Nicki Minaj), the prototypical sassy black friend – things turn even more uncomfortable when you consider that the three women find out that Mark actually has a fourth woman he sees in the Bahamas. This unnamed WOC is never even considered as part of their revenge plan. I guess she isn’t blond enough for them.

To round things off, the open objectification of Amber and the constant male gaze on her body sucked the last bit of fun out of the film for me. I wish I could have enjoyed it more, but for that it would have needed to actually engage critically and feministically with its content. That may be too much to ask for a Hollywood comedy, but it really shouldn’t be.

Kate (Leslie Mann) wearing her wedding dress, eating whipped cream straight from a can.

Summarizing: skip it.

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