The Women, 2008 The Women, 2008
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Film Date :   September 12, 2008
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The Women, 2008

The Womenis a 2008 American comedy film written, produced and directed by Diane English . The screenplay is an updated version of the George Cukor -directed 1939 film of the same name based on a 1936 play by Clare Boothe Luce .

In the original film, most of the characters were Manhattan socialites whose primary interest was idle gossip . In the 2008 version, several work in the fields of fashion design and publishing , and the character of Alex Fisher is openly a lesbian .

Clothing designer Mary Haines lives in a beautiful suburban Connecticut home with her wealthy financier husband Steven and their 11-year-old daughter Molly. Her best friend since college, Sylvie Fowler, is the editor of a prominent fashion magazine that dictates the latest in taste and style for New York City fashionistas. When Sylvie learns Steven is involved with Crystal Allen, a perfume salesgirl in Saks Fifth Avenue , from chatty manicurist Tanya, she confides in the ever-pregnant Edie Cohen but hesitates to tell Mary, who discovers the news herself from the same woman after getting a manicure herself. Despite her mother Catherine's exhortation to keep quiet about what she knows and a holiday away, Mary confronts first Crystal in a department store and then Steven before asking for a divorce.

Sylvie, Edie, and writer Alex Fisher join forces to support their spurned friend, but complications arise when Sylvie, facing the loss of her job, conspires with local gossip columnist Bailey Smith by confirming Mary's marital woes in exchange for Bailey contributing a celebrity profile to the magazine. She is stunned by Sylvie's betrayal and Mary ends their friendship. Mary's daughter has begun to ditch school and confides in Sylvie when her mother, distracted by the upheavals in her once idyllic life, becomes more distant.

Fired from her job, Mary has a makeover and decides to open her own clothing design firm with some financial assistance from Catherine. As she begins to get her life in order, she makes an effort to bond with Molly who reveals her father's relationship with Crystal is unraveling, and reunites with Sylvie who has quit her job. With this knowledge in hand, Mary sets out to repair her fractured marriage as she prepares to unveil her new line of women's wear in a fashion show attended not only by boutique owners but the buyer from Saks as well. Sylvie tells Mary that she has met a guy and is thinking of giving him her real phone number. In the final scene, Edie's water breaks and she has a baby boy.

After the ending credits, we see that a magazine named Sylvie is published with the four friends on the cover and Alex's book is out. The women talk about the movie and about being a woman.


InThe Women: The Legacy, a bonus feature on the DVD release of the film, Diane English discusses her fifteen-year-long struggle to bring a contemporary version of the 1939 classic film to the screen. She wanted to present a version in which the female characters were strong and self-reliant and supported and defended each other rather than resort to treachery and catty remarks to achieve their goals. Since the concept of women going to Reno in search of a divorce is archaic, she needed to eliminate this aspect of the original plot from her treatment, which necessitated deleting several characters from the story. One character that is not in its original form is Lucy, who in the play and original movie was the maid in Reno, here she is seen as Mary's dog.

English wrote the first screenplay in 1993 during hiatus fromMurphy Brown. The following year, Julia Roberts and Meg Ryan agreed to co-produce and star, with James L. Brooks as director and a supporting cast including Blythe Danner , Marisa Tomei , Debi Mazar , and Candice Bergen . In 1996, the first table reading of the script was held on the Sony Pictures lot. Despite the enthusiasm of everyone involved, the project stalled when Roberts and Ryan decided they wanted to play the same role.[citation needed]

English spent the following year revising the screenplay, during which time Brooks dropped out to directAs Good as It Gets. Roberts also lost interest and moved on. English first entertained the idea of directing the film herself in 2001. Over the next few years, Sandra Bullock , Ashley Judd , Uma Thurman , Whitney Houston , and Queen Latifah were among those to express interest, although none were attached officially.

After being turned down by every major Hollywood studio, English decided to develop the project as an independent film and approached Victoria Pearman, the president of Mick Jagger 's production company, Jagged Films, who agreed to produce the film for Picturehouse . Pearman offered some plot suggestions, and English put the finishing touches on the seventh and final draft of the script. Upon the film's completion, it was shown to executives at Warner Bros. , which had absorbed Picturehouse in the interim. Unimpressed, they put the film on the back burner until the box office success ofSex and the Cityconvinced them there was an audience for an all-female film.

The film was shot on location in New York City and Georgetown , Gloucester , Sudbury , Medfield , and Boston in Massachusetts . As with the play and 1939 film, English was careful to make sure no men appear on screen, even in long shots and crowd scenes. The only male character in the film is Edie's baby boy, born in the final scene of the film, and the waiter at the café, at the credit scene.


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