Login

The First Wives Club Review

Image for The First Wives Club

Three middle-aged divorced women are reunited at their friend's funeral. Shocked by her suicide, and looking at their only lives, they decide to form a club dedicated to the destruction of their ex-husbands lives.

★★★★★

Something of a surprise hit in the US, where it flattened all the other autumnal competitors, this lightweight comedy from the director of Police Academy has struck a unifying chord in the hearts of many women. For the flavour is one of gleeful revenge as three women club together to get their own back on ex-husbands who have all done them wrong.

Three college friends - loudmouth Brenda (Midler), mousy housewife Annie (Keaton), and Elise (Hawn) an actress whose career is on the slide - all meet up for the first time in 20 years at the funeral of an old friend. Shocked by her suicide, committed on the remarriage of her ex to a younger, more beautiful model, the three women are forced to look at the parallels in their own lives. Over lunch they decide to form a club dedicated to ruining their own ex-husbands, all now with their own trophy girlfriends.

Based on the scabrous bestseller by Olivia Goldsmith, the plot has been considerably softened: gone is Annie's Down's syndrome daughter, Brenda's lesbian relationship, and Elise's drunken toy boy sexual encounter. Instead, the whole action is played for laughs, in which Goldie steals the limelight in self parody as the surgery-altered actress in a permanent alcoholic haze, Bette is her usual ballsy self, while Keaton is the weak link, letting the side down with a nervy, stuttering attempt at comedy.

Actually, most of the good comic moments come from the supporting cast - Maggie Smith as the flaky socialite Gunilla Goldberg, the ever brilliant Dan Hedaya as Midler's low-life ex Morty, and a pouty Sarah Jessica Parker as his social climbing, spandex wearing girlfriend. But what starts out so promisingly with some witty one-liners loses itself in the middle and finally descends into a slapstick routine that cries out for a touch of sophistication. Aiming for the bittersweet air of triumph over despair, the plot loses dignity as the trio, having exacted justice, resort to an all-singing all-dancing finalZ that defies belief.

what starts out so promisingly with some witty one-liners loses itself in the middle and finally descends into a slapstick routine that cries out for a touch of sophistication.