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Plucked from their Victorian context, Oscar Wilde’s witticisms still sound fresh. The same is not true, however, of his plays, which are more sentimental than their author’s reputation suggests. The most telling example is Lady Windermere’s Fan, which takes a mildly subversive concept—that a “bad” woman can do a good deed—and renders it barely shocking enough for 1892, the year it debuted. For unnecessary cinematic update A Good Woman, director Mike Barker made a few unwise choices, notably moving the action from Victorian Britain to 1930s Italy, using a script that mixes real Wilde with Howard Himelstein’s crude supplementary lines, and turning three of the principals into Americans. And not just any Americans: The director, who muddled 17th-century British history in To Kill a King, cast sitcomist Helen Hunt and disaffected-teen specialist Scarlett Johansson in central roles. Hunt plays the notorious Mrs. Erlynne, run out of New York by a pack of jealous society wives. She heads to Amalfi, where she makes contact with Robert Windermere (Mark Umbers), a wealthy, upright Yank. Mrs. Erlynne’s presence lubricates the local gossip mill, and soon even Robert’s innocent bride, Meg (Johansson), has heard the insinuation that her husband is dallying with the brassy newcomer. Of course, save for caddish Lord Darlington (Stephen Campbell Moore), who hopes that Meg’s distress will make her vulnerable to seduction, all of the major characters actually mean well. Ultimately, Mrs. Erlynne risks her engagement to the inordinately wealthy, moderately wacky Tuppy (the exemplary Tom Wilkinson) in order to block Meg from an indiscretion that might have seemed terrible in 1890s London. But even viewers who don’t know the play won’t be surprised by any of this, given that the plot gimmick is easy to guess and Barker foreshadows with a sledgehammer. The movie’s predictability might explain why A Good Woman had been on the shelf since 2004, but the acting is an even bigger problem—and employing chiaroscuro compositions that suggest real Italian cinema can’t cover for Hunt’s and, especially, Johansson’s graceless delivery. As in Match Point, her sole preparation for holding her own against superior British actors appears to have been flying across the Atlantic and finding a backless evening dress that’s probably to Woody’s taste.—Mark Jenkins