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24 February 2024

Catfights now bow to sisterhood

Ryan and Bening lack the drive to save this sinking ship. (SUPPLIED)

By Stephen Farber

After Sex and the City and Mamma Mia! drew crowds because they appealed to an underserved audience, will ladies of a certain age also flock to see writer-director Diane English's pallid remake of The Women?

If they do, it will be further proof that women are eager to see their concerns depicted on-screen.

English's update keeps the basic story – contented wife and mother Mary Haines (Meg Ryan) is shattered when she learns her husband is having an affair with shopgirl Crystal Allen (Eva Mendes)

A few of the best lines from the old movie are retained, but English tones down the catfights in order to celebrate sisterhood – there isn't a single man on camera.

The changes particularly hurt the character of Sylvie Fowler (Annette Bening). High-powered Sylvie has become less devious and more of a friend, which might please feminists, but it undermines the drama.

The film repeatedly sacrifices dramatic punch for political correctness. Bette Midler has a delicious cameo as Countess, the divorced Hollywood agent; but her role is badly truncated.

In the final payoff, the new Women sags when it should snap.