A modern cinematic equivalent of the sort of tired sex farces that used to populate Broadway with regularity, simultaneously exploits and squanders the talents of its star, Marcia Gay Harden. The Oscar-winning actress shines as a wife who discovers her husband is cheating on her and then strikes up a duplicitous friendship with his mistress, but the material she’s given is so flaccid and bloated that both laughs and drama are sadly missing.
The story begins with Madelyn (Harden) accidentally coming up on her husband Paul (Joseph Kell) and the much younger Lucy (Leonor Watling) sharing an obviously romantic restaurant dinner. Through circumstances too convoluted to recount, Madelyn winds up saving her rival from a suicide attempt, with the unwitting, grateful young woman promptly suggesting that they become best friends and agree to consult each other before making any major decisions. Sensing an opening that would enable her to derail the affair, Madelyn agrees. Hilarity fails to ensue.
The overlong proceedings are loaded down with an egregious surplus of unconvincing subplots, including the new BFFs getting cast in an amateur production of , with non-actress Madelyn playing Lear, no less; Madelyn’s fending off the advances of her lovestruck boss (Gary Piquer), whose wife (Valerie Mahaffey) becomes suspicious; Paul becoming crazed at the thought that Madelyn is turning the tables and cheating on him; and Madelyn’s having sex with a handsome stranger (a charmingly relaxed Aidan Quinn) at the nursing home where both of their parents have just died.
It’s easy to understand why Harden was attracted to her role, since Madelyn both conveys deep anguish and drops witty one-liners with abandon. And the actress makes the most of it, delivering a richly multi-faceted performance that includes some juicy drunk scenes. But director/screenwriter Joan Carr-Wiggin displays no sense of comic rhythm, and her attempts to infuse pathos into the storyline merely drag it down even more. Particularly unfortunate are the clichéd scenes concerning the theatrical troupe — the director is, gasp, a pretentious twit — which mainly come across as a tired rip-off of the similar plot element in Neil Simon’s .