First screened two years ago as The Other Woman, this mawkish New York weepie would probably have sunk without trace had Black Swan not suddenly made Natalie Portman box-office catnip again.
That writer/director Don Roos’ film has resurfaced now is no great cause for celebration, even if it does see its star stretching her dramatic muscles ahead of her impending awards deluge.
It’s certainly a test for the usually sympathetic actress to make her protagonist here even halfway likeable. Portman plays Emilia, an ambitious homewrecker who woos wealthy lawyer Jack (Scott Cohen) away from his spouse. But Emilia and Jack’s new marriage is struck by tragedy when they lose their baby daughter to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
Where Nicole Kidman brought waspish wit and vigour to her similarly bereaved Rabbit Hole character, Portman merely comes over as prickly and selfish. What’s more, Emilia’s outrage over her mother’s decision to reconcile with her philandering ex-husband is more than a little hypocritical given her contribution to Manhattan’s divorce statistics.
Roos tries to win his heroine brownie points by making Jack’s own ex (Lisa Kudrow) a screeching, vindictive harridan and by having Emilia bond, Stepmom-style, with her husband’s eight-year-old (Charlie Tahan).
But as Love And Other Impossible Pursuits degenerates into a series of confrontations (culminating in a resolution that rings false), you’re left wondering what happened to the risk-taking filmmaker who once gave us The Opposite Of Sex.
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