At first glance this is one more bright, bitty Swinging London caper, full of trendy London types trying their best to be "kooky" and daring. But "Just Like a Woman" does not quite fit the pigeonhole that contains "Georgy Girl", "Morgan", "The Knack" etc. It is a slightly older generation's wary encounter with the explosion of colour and brittle vitality that swept over England after The Beatles headed south from Liverpool.
The story centres on the bumpy marriage of a successful producer-director of television light entertainment and his wife, a scatty singer who cannot stand his flirtatiousness and fondness for the bottle. That his problem should be booze rather than dope is one sign that we're not dealing with liberated teenagers here. So is the film's music, jazz rather than pop: singer Mark Murphy (still going strong in 2004) has two numbers, one a duet with Wendy Craig. When a real pop star crops up on one of our anti-hero's shows, as played by Barry Fantoni he's a self-obsessed, hippy idiot banging a tambourine at random and failing to take direction.
Going back and forth between the couple after their separation, Fuest's screenplay conforms to the older Britflick morality: much talk about sex but neither of them getting any. Matthews is interrupted by Craig when he brings a starlet home; she's "gone right off it" and dreams only of building an ideal home for baths and parties.
A rally of TV faces enlivens the bumpy road to reconciliation. Miriam Karlin and Peter Jones from "The Rag Trade" are Matthews's studio colleagues; Clive Dunn, soon to be typed as a dotard, here depicts a mad Prussian Bauhaus architect who conceives Craig's perfect pad, a metal wigwam in a field full of cows. Dennis Price is a suave bathroom fittings salesman; Ray Barrett a randy Australian party animal; and John Wood, whom British cinema never used properly, does a sympathetic turn as a deadpan and epicene intermediary between the separated spouses.
Fuest started as a TV production designer, going on to direct episodes of "The Avengers". This, his first feature, has something of that series's snap, crackle and pop in its dialogue and its surrealist touches, especially in the climactic scene at Craig's new house. She is in transit from her original persona as debby party girl ("The Servant") to the mumsy characters she has played ever since. Matthews, a low-budget Cary Grant, is suave or silly as required. (Trivia note: he voiced the eponymous hero in Gerry Anderson's "Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons".) It adds up to a visually pleasant divertissement which ought to be rescued from the Lethe of unsold transmission rights.
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