In The Land Of Women (DVD)

It's always cause for alarm when a film gets a straight-to-DVD release (although it did get a cinema release in the US in April of 2007, to a poor reception). And after watching the DVD, I can see why. While it's being marketed as a comedy, this is nothing more than a soppy chick flick, and a fairly lame one at that.

It's a shame to see Brody's talents going to waste. He was the best thing that the TV series The O.C. had going for it (OK, it was a guilty pleasure) but in his first starring role he's not given a lot to do except mope around, be snide and pretty much reprise his Seth character from that show. Here he's playing Carter Webb, an LA-based writer of soft porn flicks (people really WRITE those things?) who gets dumped by his oh-so-hot actress girlfriend. Heartbroken, he heads to Michigan to spend some time with his ailing, and crazy, grandmother (Dukakis). He soon strikes up a friendship with two members of the family that live across the street — mother Sarah (Ryan) and daughter Lucy (Stewart). Well, he befriends mum first when they go walking the dog together. And talking. Oh boy, do they talk. All that touchy-feely stuff. He tells her all about his broken heart. She tells him that her husband is having an affair (although the husband doesn't know that she knows); but she doesn't tell him that she's just learned she has breast cancer. And Carter her also strikes up a friendship with angsty teenager Lucy. Who doesn't really get on with her mum, and knows that her dad is having an affair. As you would expect, both women find themselves drawn to Carter.

And that's about as far as things go. No relationships are properly explored, nothing much really happens at all. Some chaste kisses are shared, but that's about it. Oh, and talking. Lots and lots of talking. And very few laughs are to be had, most of them at the expense of a senile old lady. It's sad to see that Ryan's career has fallen this far. But Stewart — who played Jodie Foster's daughter in Panic Room — is a young talent who could definitely go places if she chooses the right projects. And as I said earlier, Brodie is better than this wannabe Graduate; actually, his character forming romantic bonds with both mother and daughter is kinda creepy. In The Land of Women is the debut of writer/director Jon Kasdan, who is the son of Lawrence. Let's hope that he goes on to do better work than this.

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Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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