[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Friday, 11 June, 2004, 09:19 GMT 10:19 UK
Stepford cast play down problems

By Tom Brook
BBC entertainment correspondent, New York

The remake of The Stepford Wives starring Nicole Kidman, Bette Midler and Glenn Close has opened in the US after weeks of press reports suggesting the film was in trouble.

Nicole Kidman
Nicole Kidman did not turn up at the Los Angeles premiere of the film
"I think they're just trying to sell newspapers," says Close, who plays one of the Stepford wives.

Like fellow cast members, Close has been bewildered by tales of problems during production: "We just look at each other and say 'where did that come from?'"

The film is a comedic reversioning of a 1975 cult horror classic in which affluent suburban men, threatened by feminism, murdered their wives and created robotic, subservient homemakers in their likeness.

Before its release the portents for the film were not good. There were reports of last minute re-shoots and the press screening was delayed to just before the official release date, normally an ominous sign.

There were also rumours of tension on the set, a fact which director Frank Oz does not deny.

The Stepford Wives
The film is a remake of a 1975 cult movie, based on Ira Levin's novel
"We were working for five months, sure there was tension," says English-born director Oz, who previous films include Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and, more recently, The Score.

"As long as it's tension from people who care about the movie, then that's great and new stuff comes up."

Commenting on all the negative stories, Bette Midler says: "It's too bad because it's a terrific picture and I don't know who would want to sabotage something that was so enjoyable for all of us."

Scattershot comedy

In my opinion, the film that arrives in US cinemas on Friday is disappointing rather than disastrous.

It's a picture in which an intriguing subtext gets lost within a scattershot comedy.

In the remake it's actually a woman, the Stepford wife played by Glenn Close, who creates a robotic man to further her agenda.

Bette Midler
Bette Midler takes one of the lead roles in the Stepford Wives remake

Close's character wants to persuade the independent-minded women in Stepford back into the closet of 1950s-style female servitude.

The film gets by with the occasional smart set piece and witty one-liner, but it can't decide whether it's dark satire or frothy comedy.

Despite the top billing of Nicole Kidman, the pivotal role in the picture belongs to Glenn Close, who outshines all her co-stars.

Kidman didn't attend the film's world premiere in L.A, she was in New York to hand out a Tony award to Hugh Jackman, fuelling speculation that she's ambivalent about the film.

Social commentary

The original 1975 picture resonated powerfully with the times in which it was set, when there was a growing male backlash against so-called "women-libbers".

Glenn Close
Glenn Close steals the show, says the BBC's Tom Brook
Back then it proved highly effective social commentary to present men so threatened by feminism that they would trade in their wives for compliant, husband-worshipping, robots.

The creators of the new film clearly hope this version, in which a woman enslaves a robotic male to do her bidding, could be equally thought-provoking.

Certainly director Frank Oz believes the film's screenplay has relevance: "Women have gotten a great deal of what they wanted - and now what? What does that mean to them, where are they, where are men right now as a result, what's happening between them? That's what it's about."

There may also be an unintended social parallel to be drawn from the new film, in which the Glenn Close character bears similarities to First Lady Laura Bush - a woman heavily invested in 1950s-style domesticity.

So if you follow the film's controversial line of thought, that would suggest that Laura Bush's husband, the President of the United States, is a robot.




SEE ALSO:
The latest Harry Potter film: Your views
09 Jun 04 |  Entertainment
Anti-Bush film set for US release
02 Jun 04 |  Entertainment
Shrek 2 celebrates $100m weekend
24 May 04 |  Entertainment


RELATED BBC LINKS:

RELATED INTERNET LINKS:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific