Meg? Annette? Are you in there?

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It’s not often I walk out of a movie feeling annoyed. It’s not often I walk out of a movie at all because to walk out, you have to be there in the first place. Films are too long and my concentration span is too short so I don’t do the movie thing much. But this week, I went to see The Women and I walked out before the end.*

I’ll skip the part where I thought the script was lame, the plot patronising and the characters paper-thin because I’m not a movie critic. Nor have I seen the original 1930s film on which this re-make was based. However. I do have eyes and some brain cells, all of which were unimpressed by the frozen faces of the women in The Women.

Shall we start with Meg Ryan? Let’s. I loved her in When Harry Met Sally. She was real. Vulnerable, quirky, unique, funny. A few years ago, Meg must have decided she didn’t like her lips. Too thin. Or perhaps she started worrying about the longevity of her career as a leading lady. Or maybe she was just having an ugly day. It happens. But somehow, it all translated into a decision to change her face. Now she looks generic, not unique. In The Women she resembles a Victoria’s Secret model, unrecognisable from her Sally days. I wonder if that was the point.

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Back when she first had her lips inflated, her publicist denied it which was pretty silly given that it was painfully obvious (and obviously painful). Meg herself has always refused to comment beyond the ambiguous “People can do whatever they want to do. Who cares?”
Well, I care Meg. I care quite a bit. I care that I paid $16.50 and found three hours to go see a movie about women whose faces didn’t move. The only way you could tell a character in The Women was crying was when a tear rolled carefully down her immobilised face. A shouty voice? Oh! Someone must be angry! But all faces remained impassive and expressionless at all times.
Oh Annette Benning, I’m sad about you too. You’ve always been one of my favourite actresses. But in this film, you too were unrecognisable.

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Did I miss the meeting where Hollywood decided that puffy lips and a blank, frozen face were the new female beauty standard? I think the censorship board should start slapping a plastic surgery rating on all films. B for botox. F for fillers. L for lips.

All that fakeness is so utterly distracting. I kept missing vast chunks of dialogue because every time Meg Ryan opened her mouth to speak, I was captivated by the way her top lip was puffed up on either side but not in the middle.

So anyway, I got cross and I walked out. There’s something hugely exhilarating about walking out of a movie.

However, in these time-poor, cash-poor days, it can be a complex decision. You’ve blocked three hours out of your day. You’ve contributed to green house gas emissions to get to the cinema and then committed to finding a car spot. You’ve bought your ticket. Invested in a choc-top. Hell, you may even have switched off your mobile and missed three texts. And now, for whatever reason, the movie is not working for you.

At this point, there are two different types of people. Those who think: “This is crap but I’m going to get my money’s worth, dammit!”. They grit their teeth and bunker down for the duration.
Then there are those who think “I refuse to compound my losses by suffering more.” These people walk out feeling relieved.

In the days afterwards, I harrumphed quite a lot about The Women to anyone who would listen and then started asking people which films they’d walked out of.

One guy told me he’d made a disastrous movie choice recently when he’d gone to see Towelhead. With a date. “All I knew was that Toni Collette was in it so I figured it would be suitable.” Not so. I’ll spare you the full explanation as to why he and his new lady friend bolted. Suffice to say that menstrual blood is not really want you want in a date movie. “After some awkward moments and some tense whispering, we agreed it would be a good idea to flee to the pub across the road. I’m still traumatised.”

Another friend reminisced about the time in the eighties when he and a mate went to see a film called Making Love, starring their favourite Charlie’s Angel’s actress, Kate Jackson. “We’d heard it was about a threesome so we were pretty excited about that until the film started and we realised it was about two guys and a girl. Kate disappeared after about two scenes and we followed her soon afterwards much to the amusement of the gay couples around us.”

“Wall-E” said my mother when I asked her when she’d last walked out of a movie. Inexplicably, she’d gone to see the kiddie film with my dad and no children. “The grandkids said it was fabulous and we’d seen everything else so we thought, why not? But it was so loud. First we fell asleep I think just to escape the noise. And when we woke up, we walked out.”
Ah. Movies-I’ve-Fallen-Asleep-In. There’s not enough room in this newspaper to tell you about all of those….

*Of course, this is just my opinion. Hell, you may love the film. In the spirit of balance, here is a review from someone who did.

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