Perhaps I'm a little biased on this subject because we're about to have our first baby, but 'The Other Woman' – a film which was universally railed against by critics – struck me on an emotional level. I don't know about anyone else, but with my first child on the way I'm absolutely scared to death about the possibility of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). I can't think of anything more terrifying for a new parent-to-be than realizing there is a mysterious syndrome out there that can snatch the life out of your newborn without any real reason as to why.
Natalie Portman stars as a home wrecker named Emilia. She has fallen in love with a co-worker, Jack (Scott Cohen), who was married with a kid. At the school where she picks up Jack's son, William (Charlie Tahan), the women stare at her like she's some being that should be reviled. She did help break up a marriage after all, and as soon as Jack's divorce was finalized she married him.
It's silly of us to think of Emilia as the protagonist in this movie. She's more of an antagonist since she isn't a very nice person. Right after marrying Jack they had a daughter who soon passed away with complications from SIDS, and ever since then Emilia has been a walking mess of a woman. She can't make it through a day without thinking about her daughter. She doesn't understand why she was taken away. Who can understand it? We still don't really know why SIDS does the things that it does, but it occurs all too frequently.
As an expectant father, watching 'The Other Woman' scared me even more – as if I needed more anxiety to fuel my paranoid fire. This is something that can happen to people with healthy babies. One moment they're alive, the next they're gone. I couldn't imagine going through the same thing Emilia had to endure. The problem is compounded by the fact that the people around her act somewhat aloof of the situation, like the baby shouldn't have been born to begin with since Emilia broke up a home. Jack's ex-wife, Carolyn (Lisa Kudrow), also tells William that his half-sister wasn't actually a real person anyway. Under Jewish law, a baby has to live at least eight days, and Emilia's daughter only lived three. You can tell that Emilia and Carolyn don't get along.
While 'The Other Woman' isn't as riveting as other grief dramas, such as the masterful 'Rabbit Hole,' it is one that will resonate emotionally with the right audience. I was the right audience and was in the right frame of mind to absorb the message being sent out by 'The Other Woman.' How does one deal with the sudden loss of a new life? Can one even deal with it? Is it possible to ever forget what happened? These are questions that are raised, but never specifically answered, because there really is no answer. Everyone is different. Everyone deals with grief and despair in their own way. In Emilia's case it eats her up from the inside out. It turns her into a vindictive, vengeful person who holds grudges and just can't let go of the past.
Emilia's only connection to a happy life exists in Jack's son William, a precocious youngster who, at times, becomes wise beyond his years. There's a simple truth to William's words and actions that no adult could convey. Life is still simple when we're William's age as things are much more black and white. He's trying his best to deal with a family that doesn't resemble the normal "happy home," and in a way he's coping better than the adults.
Some people may ride 'The Other Woman' for being overly dramatic, but I see a movie about real people dealing with a genuinely disturbing subject trying its best to answer questions that, in the end, have no answers at all.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
'The Other Woman' comes to Blu-ray from IFC Films. It's housed on a 25-GB Single-Layer disc. This release is region A only.
The 1080p image from IFC is helped along by an AVC encode. The movie has been framed at a 2.35:1 (it's intended aspect ratio) even though its theatrical release was cropped to a 1.85:1 ratio.
'The Other Woman' features a very natural color palette. The movie's look doesn't seem like it's been tampered with at all during post production. Colors look normal, as do skintones. Blacks are nice and deep with shadow delineation working nicely in dimmer scenes – like when Emilia and Jack have deep discussions in their bedroom only lit by soft lamps.
Detail is even and revealing during close-ups. Pores, tiny facial hairs, and features such as lip lines and wrinkles around the eyes can be seen with striking clarity. Clothing textures, like Emilia's sweaters, pop as you can see individual threads that make up the whole. While this isn't the flashiest looking Blu-ray you'll pick up this year, it is a very solid delivery from IFC.
This is a very subdued listening affair. A movie about a mother grieving the loss of her newborn isn't going to have much in the way of sonic wares to delight the eardrums. Like many dramas that find their way to Blu-ray, 'The Other Woman's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround sound mix accurately represents what's happening on screen, but not in an ear-bursting, wall-shaking sort of way.
Dialogue is always easy to hear and understand. The rear channels are rarely engaged, because there's just not that many scenes that require it. A bustling elementary school and a busy ice rink in Central Park add a bit of ambiance, but for the most part the movie's sound is centered in the front and center channels.
All around this is a solid audio presentation for an understated movie about grief and pain.
Maybe I was just in the right frame of mind to take 'The Other Woman' seriously. I wouldn't know what to do if I was faced with the situation of SIDS. It's a real, tangible fear in the back of my mind that I just can't shake. It's a horrible occurrence that I wouldn't wish on anyone. Watching Emilia try and deal with it is heart-breaking. This is a solid Blu-ray presentation from IFC, even though an indie drama like this doesn't require all that much in the way of the audio and visual departments. Still, the presentations are as good as they could be considering. Recommended.