|The Stepford Wives
||[Jun. 28th, 2004|06:46 pm]
한국 사람이 아니다
|||||Leave it to Beaver. How appropriate||]|
I finally saw The Stepford Wives. And while I realise that it's gotten horrid reviews (it only got a 27% at Rotten Tomatoes), i found it a brilliant take on Ira Levin's classic 1972 thriller.
And, yes, it's not as creepy as the novel. And yes, it isn't at all like the 1975 original film. And in a way, I'm glad it wasn't. That movie, like Willard, is not just a movie anymore. It's a piece of American culture. It's entered the lexicon to the extent that if you use the term "stepford wife" to describe someone, almost no one will be confused as to what you are trying to express.
So instead, this is a camp take on the same source material. Which is not a bad thing. How many versions of Hamlet are there? And not all are serious: take, for example, The Adventures of Bob & Doug McKenzie: Strange Brew. Yes, it is in fact based, very loosely, on Hamlet. Elsinor Brewery, the uncle killing Pam's (rhymes with Ham) father and marrying his sister-in-law, Pam falling for the "insane" Jean "Rosie" LaRouche...Bob and Doug are Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, basically. So, just because it's a remake doesn't mean it needs to be exactly like the original; sometimes it's better if it's not.
So, taken in that context, it's actually quite wonderful, a witty look at the roles of men and women, then and now; a jab at how far we've come and still how little has changed.
In this version, all the men are geeks who worked at AOL, Disney, Microsoft and other nerdy places. And all the women, before moving to Stepford, were dominent women, CEOs, top surgeons, best-selling authors and high-powered television executives...until, somehow, they became obedient, subservient Barbies.
It's interesting (and not commented on in anything I've seen written about it) that almost every man is shorter than his wife, and they all seem to have married the power they didn't feel they had on their own. And the men are all pretty darn dorky, too...even Matthew Broderick (and it was actually meant to be John Cusak in the role of Walter, who's pretty much every woman's dream dork), who explains at one point that the men are tired of being the wusses who make less than their wives. Which is likely why they married them in the first place, but anyway.
But seeing Nicole Kidman, Bette Midler and Roger Bart clinging to their city blacks while surrounded by a fog of pastels and chiffon is just wonder. The chemistry of this trio is worth it...Roger, you see, is the token male wife, and he's more flouncy (and more witty) than Carson. There are also just some lovely shots, and colour is used better than I've seen in a film since Far From Heaven and Pleasantville (also rather similar in subject matter, too, if you think about it).
It skewers our modern life (wickedly attacking reality TV, urbanites and suburbanites, our Jetsons dreams of 50 years ago that didn't turn out the way we thought, and Connecticut. It's fun. The opening credits are hysterical, and the ending is nutty, but still entertaining...Glenn Close does insane so very well. I may be one of the few positive reviews you'll read, but so long as you don't go in expecting a carbon copy of the 29-year-old interpretation (made at a time when dark scary thrillers were all the rage), you might be surprised that this is as scathing a commentary as the first one was, if not moreso.