Ron Rosenbaum

The Smartest, Sexiest Scarlett Johansson Movie You've Never Seen

Well if you have seen it you’re among the fortunate few. it was released for about five minutes in February of this year and I only learned about it when I stumbled on it, buried on Time-Warner’s video-on-demand section.

It turns out that A Good Woman is, of all things an adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s Lady Windermere’s Fan, a play I’d never got round to til I saw the film. And it’s rather amazing. Yes, Ms. Johansson was sexy as a knowing, then crazed. seductress in Match Point, but she’s astonishly affecting (and sexy) as a bravely innocent young wife in a film that is a meditation on marriage. And on such questions as whether women–whether men as well–desire more to be loved or understood. (Are they mutually exclusive? You make the call.)

It’s not as difficult, I think, for an actress to play an ostensibly Bad Woman (as Helen Hunt does brilliantly here) but it’s a more difficult task to make a Good Woman seem as interesting. But she does! She (and Helen Hunt) give new meaning to Graham Greene’s epigram that the most seductively dangerous quality in a woman is goodness.

It’s a film that raises questions about the difference between Goodness and Innocence, who is the truly Good Woman, whether men and women have different emotional truths, the nature of love and marriage. Whether God can make a stone too heavy for HIm to lift. (just kidding–that’s another movie.) It will leave you stirred up on intellectual, emotional and other levels.

Cumulatively it’s stuniningly intelligent and romantic, a rare cohabitation.

And this is, after all, the play in which Wilde gives one of his characters the now a-bit-too-familiar line: “I can resist anything but temptation.”

Don’t resist the temptation to rent this. You’ll thank me.