9/2/16

THE WOMAN IN RED - REVIEW


A 1984 remake of French comedy Pardon Mon Affaire, The Woman In Red was directed by and starred Gene Wilder as a man struggling with a mid-life crisis who is tempted to have an affair with Kelly LeBrock's young model despite being happily married.

The Woman In Red is a comedic look at the difference between love and lust as everyman Teddy Pierce (Wilder) first encounters the woman of his dreams as she spontaneously re-enacts that iconic Marilyn Monroe flowing dress moment and, from then on, he finds himself spiralling down into a succession of clumsy, embarrassing and very funny misjudged attempts at wooing Charlotte (LeBrock). In the vein of some earlier Woody Allen comedies or Steve Martin's The Lonely Guy, the main character's story is told to us through his eyes but we also get to step back and witness the absurdity of his actions through some enjoyably silly sequences. Gilda Radner also appears in the film as Teddy's colleague who mistakenly believes he is interested in her after a phone call gone wrong and her character is even funnier when you know she and Wilder were married that same year.

The film was Gene Wilder's biggest box-office hit as director and it kick-started a whole bunch of Hollywood adaptations of French comedies after that. There's definitely a European sensibility to the humour and the character relationships in this film yet it works completely as a San Francisco-set comedy since the subject matter and the people are easy to relate to and, in fact, that French vibe adds a refreshing off-beat quality to the film. Unlike many of Wilder's films that were period pieces or relied on an effective duo (see the Richard Pryor collaborations), The Woman In Red is a more contemporary comedy which gave the actor the opportunity to really show he could pull off a comedy solo and he does a fantastic job throughout delivering a subtly funny, layered performance. The cast also includes Charles Grodin and Joseph Bologna as two of Teddy's best friends and the Academy Award-winning soundtrack boasts original songs by Stevie Wonder.

The fact that The Woman In Red is rarely mentioned alongside some of Gene Wilder's classic works is a testament to how many good films the actor/filmmaker made during his career. This is a really enjoyable, often hilarious 80's comedy that's well worth checking out if you haven't already and it's especially a must for fans.

Pretty irresistible.

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