Here's plain and simple advice from Diane English, the director and screenwriter of The Women, the remake of the vintage divorce movie opening this weekend: "Men come and go," she says, "Get yourself some girlfriends."
The power of girlfriends is the theme of the original, a 1939 George Cukor film based on Clare Boothe Luce's 1936 stage play, and it’s the theme here.
And, like its predecessor, this film talks a lot about men but they are never seen.
There is, however, one major difference. The 1939 film was Luce's poison pen letter to the high society women she scorned; English considers her film a valentine to girlfriends, an exploration on how they help you navigate through all stages of life.
Of course, we are all well aware of the support girlfriends can provide, whether they're sitting across the coffee table or sipping coffee half-way across the country. That's why we created the First Wives Social Network.
In English's film, Meg Ryan's character, Mary Hanes, finds out that her husband is cheating on her. Her friends — played by Annette Bening, Bette Midler, and Carrie Fisher — rally to her side and show her the possibilities that can exist for her, even though her life has changed.
Diane English also brought back Candice Bergen, who starred in Murphy Brown, a series English wrote. Bergen plays Mary Hanes’s mother in the film.
Friends are the theme, but divorce is the subject of The Women. So of course it’s debated and dissected.
"It should be harder to get married and easier to get divorced," English told me. "Marriage is too easy to do and then if it is a mistake, divorce is so painful and long."
But as English said to me, in 1939 getting divorced was shameful. "Back in the 30s, it was a stigma, but now it is more common for many reasons. Even the word ‘divorcée’ seems quaint."
One of the most quoted lines in the original film was: “A woman's compromised the day she's born.”
That indeed is progress.