Even with its few missteps, this movie mostly succeeds at telling Mimi’s lurid tale. Polanski is widely revered as an accomplished director whose hallmark motifs include depicting her hollowing out under Oscar’s withering love.
Nigel (Hugh Grant) and Fiona (Kristen Scott Thomas), two ordinary British married couple, come across Mimi on a cruise ship; at first it appears she is innocent but soon it becomes evident she is anything but harmless, driving most of the plot forward through flashbacks she provides.
Stories in The Women encompass romances, breakups, violence and infidelity involving romantic partners; often including Mimi tying her aging expatriate writer husband Oscar to a chair before cutting his clothing open with a razorblade and then kicking him over. While not as viscerally disturbing as Rosemary’s Baby or Repusion from Polanski, The Women still provides moments that induce sexual discomfort that will give audiences chills down their spines.
One of the great strengths of the film is its restrained approach to more sleazy scenes; one never knows exactly what will happen next, or if this is all just an elaborate fantasy in which Mimi attempts to fulfill unfulfilled needs through various means. Nathalie Galan from Playboy fame gives a terrific performance as Mimi’s seductive butch lover; various recurring motifs–such as straight razors, milk bottles, black latex clothing, hospital beds and reaching hands–give meaning and depth not often found elsewhere. This film truly stands out among films of its kind in this regard.