Considering that I fall into the prime market that the makers of chick-flicks aim to attract, I am surprisingly disinterested by the feel-good fare starring the likes of Kate Hudson, Katherine Heigl and a pre-“Blind Side” Sandra Bullock.
However, I try to go into every film I see with an open mind; after all, I was pleasantly surprised by comedy flick ”Horrible Bosses” and absolutely loved quirky rom-com ”Crazy Stupid Love”. Though I certainly wasn’t expecting miracles from ”I Don’t Know How She Does it” – Sarah Jessica Parker’s latest offering – what I encountered was both a frightening look at my own potential future hidden amongst a plotline as plain as vanilla ice-cream.
Parker stars as Kate Reddy, a woman desperate to present to the world the facade that she is the perfect mother who effortlessly juggles a demanding work schedule with a fulfilling home life; in reality, however, she and down-and-out-architect husband Richard (Greg Kinnear) are barely holding together the frayed ends of their family and personal life.
When Richard is offered the opportunity to undertake a development that will resurrect his failing career, Kate is only too delighted to support him – that is, until, she is given the chance to pursue her own financial project with successful and handsome business assosciate Jack Abelhammer (Pierce Brosnan).
What next ensues is the predictable point of the story where attempting to juggle too many commitments causes Kate’s family to suffer, damages her marriage and ends as it must with her musing about the possibility of an affair.
It is at this point where my issues with this film began to develop.
The crisis point of any film is usually the most entertaining portion of the movie, as we watch the main characters reach rock bottom and discover that they now have to find a way out of the mess they have created; if the characters are relatable and their problems realistic, it is easy to become invested in how the film resolves. Contrastingly, it is hard to be sympathetic towards a woman whose lack of interest in her own family and determination to pursue her own ends finds her life falling down around her, especially when the so-called disasters she faces are better described as the normal hassles faced by most people every day.
Furthermore, whilst my generation of women is not the first to have to contemplate that we will someday have to juggle a successful career alongside family life, we are perhaps the first that have been born and raised to feel that this is an expectation rather than merely a possibility. Whilst most working mothers will no doubt rejoice over the way the film demonstrates how difficult and exhausting such demands can be, I found myself terrified by what life most likely has in store for me. Certainly, Kate makes a point of describing how rewarding her life is, but I also couldn’t help but see a woman trapped between two worlds and is unable to successfully handle the stress of either. For a film whose sole purpose is meant to make me feel good, I found myself more pensive than pleased when I walked out of the cinema.
Overall, ”I Don’t Know How She Does It” can’t really be described as a train-wreck; nor can it be described as one of the year’s top films. At its very essence, it is merely a tried-and-true cinematic formula that has perhaps tackled a concept that is a little too mature for its genre; however, I am sure that there are plenty of women out there that will rejoice in what is at least an attempt at demonstrating how today’s social expectations can bring a whole family undone.