In a sense, The Women is the ultimate chick flick—men are discussed, chewed out, lauded, and lambasted, but the only one who makes an appearance is a tiny newborn boy. No other male actors appear onscreen at any time, not even as extras. And that's what constitutes this film's biggest departure from standard chick-flick fare; no charming male leads are around to romance the audience, and there's little of the fairy tale to be found. Each of the women lives in the strange-but-true world of uppercrust New York society—one where a session at Saks Fifth Avenue with Madonna's manicurist is simply something to do while waiting for your hair appointment—but like "real" people, they have strengths, failures, children, messes, and job problems, and only their friends to help sort it all out.
Sylvia (Annette Bening) is a high-flying magazine editor in Manhattan. Mary (Meg Ryan), her best friend, is married to a prominent Wall Street executive, designs clothes for her father's company, and lives in Connecticut with her family, a wisecracking housekeeper, and the Danish nanny. Edie (Debra Messing), of a flightier disposition, has four children and one on the way, and Jada Pinkett Smith is a vaguely misanthropic nocturnal essayist with a nasty supermodel for a girlfriend.
When they discover that Mary's husband is having an affair with Crystal (Eva Mendes)—a seductive perfume "spray-girl" at Saks Fifth Avenue whom he met when buying a gift for Mary—the marriage disintegrates. And when Mary is betrayed by a friend, her life spirals into depression. She is too wrapped up in her troubles to be present with her pre-teen daughter, who turns elsewhere for comfort and acceptance. It is only while on a retreat in the ...1