I Could Never Be Your Woman Review
By Jesse Hassenger
Rosie (Michelle Pfeiffer), the lead character in Amy Heckerling's I Could Never Be Your Woman, is believably beleaguered in a manner not often seen in a Hollywood romantic comedy, where a typical dilemma has an attractive young woman torn between a hot jerk and an ideal husband. Rosie is a single mother in her 40s, working her ass off on a youth-culture sitcom and fighting against the prevailing notion that women in the entertainment industry must approach but never touch the age of 28. Of course, she's also clearly loaded, providing a privileged life for her tweenage daughter Izzie (Saoirse Ronan); it's still a movie, after all.
The circumstances of Heckerling's clearly autobiographical film (she worked on the TV version of Clueless for several years following that film's release, which she also directed) mirrors its character's mix of luxury and messiness: It's a feature film with a decent budget and several recognizable stars that got caught up in a distribution mess and wound up proceeding straight to DVD. The movie itself is a bit of a mess, too, with weird interludes where Tracey Ullman, playing Mother Nature(!), harangues Rosie about the unstoppable march of time. Heckerling is fond of this technique; as the screenwriter-director, she pauses the movie for diatribes of her own about the destructive nature of beauty standards, the absurdity of network executives and standards and practices monitors, and the insanity of reality TV -- topics that seem to have been festering for a good decade or so.
But two of the movie's threads showcase the witty writing and way with actors Heckerling demonstrates in her best work (namely Clueless). The scenes between Rosie and Izzie are surprisingly insightful as they show a glamorous (but aging) L.A. mom trying to shield her daughter from the superficial worst of her environment. Ronan fits into that treacherous tween age with a perfect mixture of burgeoning awareness and lingering childish innocence; she figures out how to play an intelligent child without tipping into movieland precociousness.
The movie's purported story, sometimes obscured by the bustling feminist traffic, is Pfeiffer's romance with Paul Rudd, a thirtysomething actor playing a twentysomething actor playing a teenager on television. Their relationship could use more breathing room, but they make an endearingly tenuous couple, with her conflicted, angry wit and his carefree goofiness; how refreshing that they both get to be the funny, odd one (though Rudd might pull ahead based on his unabashed dance-floor spasms). Too bad you have to cringe a little, watching their courtship get jostled through a whole lot of side business about TV, parenting, and nature.
Maybe that's the point. Sometimes you come across an interesting movie with too many flaws to recommend, but Woman is a flawed movie with too much good stuff to completely ignore. It's smart and warm, and if Heckerling loses her grip a few times, it's only because she's squeezing so hard.
Well, you could if you tried really hard.
Facts and Figures
In Theaters: Friday 11th May 2007
Box Office Worldwide: $9.6M
Distributed by: Freestyle Releasing/Bauer Martinez Enter
Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 64%
Fresh: 7 Rotten: 4
Cast & Crew
Starring: Michelle Pfeiffer as Rosie, Paul Rudd as Adam, Saoirse Ronan as Izzie, Stacey Dash as Brianna (as Stacey L. Dash), Fred Willard as Marty, Jon Lovitz as Nathan, Sarah Alexander as Jeannie, Tracey Ullman as Mother Nature, Yasmin Paige as Melanie, Graham Norton as Taylor, Olivia Colman as Hairdresser, Steve Pemberton as Censor, Archie Panjabi as Casting Girl, Mackenzie Crook as Producer, David Mitchell as David - Writer, Ed Byrne as Delivery Boy