Natalie Portman's 'Other' movie, now on screen
It's been a busy few months for Natalie Portman. First there is the awards campaign for her performance in "Black Swan," for which she is considered by many to be the front-runner for the Oscar for best actress. Then there was the recent one-two announcement that she is engaged to her "Black Swan" choreographer, Benjamin Millepied, and the couple is expecting a child. Next is a full slate of upcoming releases, starting with the rom-com "No Strings Attached," the comic-book adaptation "Thor" and the action-comedy "Your Highness." That's not to mention "Hesher," which premiered at Sundance in 2010, and in which Portman costars and has her first credit as producer. (And what have you been up to lately?)
Add to that pile "The Other Woman," which has reemerged with the release of a poster and trailer that appeared online and the sudden announcement that it would be available on video on demand starting Jan. 1 before hitting theaters Feb. 4. The film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2009, where it was shown under the title "Love and Other Impossible Pursuits," after the Ayelet Waldman novel from which it is adapted.
Anyone looking to chart how Portman arrived at her performance in "Black Swan" would be interested to give "The Other Woman" a look. In the film, Portman plays a young woman dealing with the grief of losing a newborn while struggling to fit in with her husband (Scott Cohen), dodging the scorn of his first wife (Lisa Kudrow) and learning the ropes with her new stepson (Charlie Tahan). In many ways, a more accurate re-titling might have been "The Second Wife," as the film explores the emotional minefield of moving from being an awkwardly tolerated outsider to part of an actual working family unit.
"The Other Woman" also marks something of a departure for director and screenwriter Don Roos, as adapting someone else's work for the first time seems to have tempered his tendency toward acidic camp as seen in "The Opposite of Sex" and "Happy Endings." Prior to the film's premiere in Toronto, Roos introduced the movie by perhaps inadvertently pointing the way forward in Portman's career trajectory and "Black Swan" when he told the audience, "I hope you like challenging women."
-- Mark Olsen
Photo: Natalie Portman and Charlie Tahan in "The Other Woman." Credit: IFC Films