TL;DR – A story that explores a part of life that rarely gets to make it to the cinema, even if it does take some wild turns and does not quite come together in places.
Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene
Disclosure – I paid to watch this film
How to Please a Woman Review –
I am not quite sure what I expected when I sat down to watch How to Please a Woman. I had not seen any of the trailers, and there was only the poster to go on that, at best, gives off a ‘Cougar Town after they worked out what Cougar Town was and regretted calling it Cougar Town’ energy. However, no matter what I would have thought, I am not sure I was ready for the wild turns this film takes.
So to set the scene, Gina (Sally Phillips) spends her mornings swimming in the ocean off the West Australian coast with her friends, which is the one part of her life that gives her purpose. Her marriage with Adrian (Cameron Daddo) is loveless, and her boss Gary (Ben Mortley), is more interested in his staff’s physical attributes than how good they are at their jobs. Knowing she is in a bad place, her friends buy her a stripper called Tom (Alexander England) for her birthday. They just didn’t realise that the ‘premium package’ meant they had actually paid for a prostitute and not a stripper. Not wanting to cheat on her husband, Gina takes his ‘I can do anything you want for two hours’ to instead clean her house, which is the point that she has an idea for a new business.
There is a lot to unpack in this film, but one of the main themes of this film is exploring how people who have been ignored by society re-find purpose in themselves. Women over thirty in the film are rarely seen as sexual creatures, taking on standard mother or grandmother roles. Here we have an exploration of their physical wants, needs, and also their bodies. Just because they have gotten older does not mean that their desires have faded nor their needs. This is captured well by the lead, Sally Phillips, trying to find her feet in a world where she is swimming through molasses. When the film is focussing on this, it simply excels. Add in a solid supporting cast, some solid abs, and a helpful Freemantle beachside location. Well, you have all the building blocks for an interesting film.
Where the film takes a turn is its move from maybe women would like to pay men to clean their houses, to also perhaps they also have sex as well. This immediately shifts the tone and direction of the film from self-affirming to self-exploration and then back again. Given this is a movie about the topic of prostitution, it means there are several sexual encounters throughout the runtime. Some are quite tame, others are quite risqué, and some are super awkward. Oddly, I think this is a film that will be too risqué for some and yet too tame for others, they were aiming for a middle ground, but I don’t think they quite nailed it.
As well as this, some issues did crop up during the runtime for me. The character of Ben (Josh Thomson) felt like they got side-lined in a tacky way and was only there for one gag in the third act. While I appreciate some signposting in a film, there were times when those signposts were using neon lights, which could have been dialled back a bit. Finally, while I know this is likely due to Covid and having to do the ADR in 10 different studios, the final sound mix felt off in places. This is especially noticeable in the scenes filmed in the beach showers.
In the end, do we recommend How to Please a Women? Well, I think there is a very specific target market this film is aiming for, and in that respect, if you are part of that demographic, I think you will enjoy it. Broader than that, look, there are a lot of fun moments, but some of those issues might be deal breakers. If you liked How to Please a Women, I would also recommend to you The Dressmaker.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of How to Please a Woman
Directed by – Renée Webster
Written by – Renée Webster
Music by – Guy Gross
Cinematography by – Ben Nott
Edited by – Merlin Eden
Production/Distribution Companies – Screenwest, Screen Australia, Feisty Dame Productions, Such Much Films & Madman Entertainment
Starring – Sally Phillips, Asher Yasbincek, Erik Thomson, Alexander England, Caroline Brazier, Ryan Johnson, Cameron Daddo, Tasma Walton, Myles Pollard, Roz Hammond, Nina Young, Josh Thomson, Hayley McElhinney, Ben Mortley, Liam Graham, Catherine Moore, Alexandria Steffensen, Alexandra Nell, Grant Carter, Emily Rose Brennan, Dan Paris, Troy Coward, Emma Jackson, Lee Jankowski, Fraser Murray, Takia Morrison, Suesha Rana, Sam Dudley, Megan Hollier, Oliver Wenn, Katherine Marmion & Claire Munday
Rating – Australia: M;