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The Other Woman

Lifetime movie lovers would call "The Other Woman" wise and sensitive, but this cable via on demand film is just cliché and dull. What a promising premise, a film about maternal grief based on the 2006 bestseller, "Love and Other Impossible Pursuits," starring Natalie Portman as an emotionally damaged mother. How could so much good go so wrong so fast in only two hours?

Portman plays Emilia, a doctor and wife number two, married to Jack (Scott Cohen), an affluent lawyer. Jack and Emilia must deal with the death of their infant girl before the film’s story begins. It is a popular movie idea these days, that was also depicted in the 2010 film "Rabbit Hole" starring Nicole Kidman.

Emilia can’t get over the baby’s death, yet still has to care for Jack’s 8-year old son, William, from his first marriage to Carolyne; wickedly played by Lisa Kudrow. She steals many scenes, including mentioning the clutter from unused baby items; ouch.

Emilia makes no effort to connect with William, or reconnect with Jack. The reason is she is not only unreachable but unlikable. We see flashbacks of her affair that broke up a marriage, which is another reason not to like her. However, she gives the appearance that she doesn't like herself and may blame herself for the baby’s death. An important character point that is overlooked. Instead Portman turns Emilia’s pain into bitchiness that erupts into a tirade at William at a family party. While her anger is understandable, it is never explored only glossed over and soothed by a script afraid to let her character go deeper.

Oh, where is dad in this movie? Jack is such a weak character, that he resembles a shadow puppet disappearing when the lights go out. He rarely interacts with his damaged wife beyond sympathetic smiles and shoulder rubs that substitute for manly compassion. The real find is child actor Charlie Tahan, who holds his own with Portman and Kudrow.

"The Other Woman" is Emilia’s story, or it should have been if Portman would stop pouting, shouting and show her true anguish. She cries but never shows the source of those tears, from deep inside her wounds where great acting and storytelling exists. "The Other Woman" has its moments, but not enough to fill 120 of them.

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