The First Wives Club
- Goldie Hawn as Elise Elliot
- Bette Midler as Brenda Morelli
- Diane Keaton as Annie MacDuggan
- Sarah Jessica Parker as Shelly
- Maggie Smith as Gunilla Garson Goldberg
- Dan Hedaya as Morty
- Victor Garber as Bill
- Stephen Collins as Aaron
An utterly devilish and fun comedy that follows three women getting back at their menfolk in mischievous ways, The First Wives knows how to be terrific entertainment and a sparkling showcase for Goldie Hawn, Bette Midler and Diane Keaton.
We begin in the late 60’s when four young women; Elise, Brenda, Annie and Cynthia are graduating college and promising to be in touch regularly no matter what. Decades later and the ladies have hardly been in contact with each other, through a variety of reasons despite the fact they all live in New York. Elise is an actress, who at one point had popularity but is trying to be younger as there is more demand for it in Hollywood and has turned to booze. She has also split from her producer husband Bill after he was caught fooling about with a younger actress and is now asking for alimony. Brenda has a young son and is now separated from her husband Morty;who also played away from home with a younger lady, in this case the bimbo social climber Shelley(even though Brenda was the one who helped him set up his business.) Annie is still technically married to louse Aaron though they are trying a temporary separation. It is through Cynthia that everyone is brought together, as she commits suicide following her husband leaving her and marrying someone else. Elise, Brenda and Annie meet at the funeral and spill their own problems to each other. Although both Elise and Brenda feel anguished, Annie thinks she is getting her marriage back on track, due to her ability to see the good and not confront decisions. That however goes out the window when she learns that he is actually leaving her for her therapist. Getting closer again after so many years apart, the trio decides that they aren’t just going to take this treatment and slowly they band together to formulate a plan. Three heads are better than one as they plot an amusing series of revenge schemes directed at the men in their lives. Much hilarity ensures along the way, showing that revenge can be quite fun and extremely sweet when you know what to do.
Hugh Wilson’s energetic direction moves events with a kinetic drive and humour, yet never sacrifices any of the sympathy or seriousness that The First Wives Club has to offer. There are those that will accuse this movie of man bashing from the start, but I find that to think that is missing some of the point. Sure the men depicted are not dactyl model citizens but the main focus is on the ladies getting perceived justice after being wronged. Everything is mainly done with a sprightly and at times acidic humour that makes the film very funny and not just one that ridicules men. After all it is just a film and I do t think the intention is to alienate men at all, I didn’t feel slighted by the film at all. I had an absolute ball with its mix of comedy and drama, that really got you to feel for these ladies and then take pleasure as they took back control over their lives. And talking of what made the film great, the script of arch one liners and a bundle of hilarious scenes is sufficient enough to pique anyone’s interest. Take for instance, when the ladies sneak into Morty’s apartment to search for papers that prove he’s a crook and must exit when he returns, using a window cleaner lift. If you’re not laughing by the end of that outrageous scene, you clearly have no humour. And that late rendition of ‘You Don’t Own Me’ is a showstopper if ever there was one. The music score provided is one of lively intent and dynamic jumps in tempo, which suits the film down to the ground.
The three main ladies of this comedy are sensational and their chemistry is a highlight. Goldie Hawn is side-splittingly hilarious as the vain and shallow Elise, who is desperately trying to be young through cosmetic surgery and is at times very highly strung. The energy of Hawn is superbly suited to the often manic but creative character, who emerges as quite decisive in the plans to ruin the man who wronged her. Really capturing the attention is Bette Midler; the most vindictively amusing and loud of the club. You can’t fault Midler and her knack for comedic zingers, which are dispensed with vigorous style and attitude. Diane Keaton completes the triangle of great ladies by playing the repressed Annie as a bottle of jangled nerves, waiting to explode. Keaton is a dab hand at humour but also gets the right notes of sympathy for the character too as her strength slowly reveals itself. As aforementioned, these three ladies work beautifully together and it is clear as day that they had a good time making this comedy. Sarah Jessica Parker elicits plenty of laughs playing the trashy girlfriend of Morty with an eye on getting to the top, while an amusingly tart Maggie Smith rocks it as the much widowed society lady with significant tricks up her sleeve and resources to burn. Dan Hedaya, Victor Garber and Stephen Collins are the men of the film who find out just how much revenge can hurt. Hedaya is the clear standout of the guys with his constant attempts to explain away his actions quite funny.
Funny yet knowing when to be serious, The First Wives Club is great viewing as a comedy and to watch three great actresses working together with gusto.