The First Wives Club Movie Review

The First Wives Club
Image Source: IMDB

Movie: The First Wives Club
Production Company: Paramount Pictures
Director: Hugh Wilson
Producer: Scott Rudin
Scriptwriter: Robert Harling
Main Cast: Bette Midler, Goldie Hawn & Diane Keaton
Release Date: September 20 1996 (US)
Running Time: 103 Minutes
Certificate: PG


What an incredible portrayal of feminism through the excellent balance of comedy and friendship! This film successfully broke the boundaries of previous films by putting three middle-aged women in the limelight, while also challenging unfair stereotypes of women which used to be a pivotal part of filmmaking throughout the twentieth century. The First Wives Club perfectly represents the themes of friendship, heartbreak, and family with the amazing comedic chemistry between Bette Midler, Diane Keaton, and Goldie Hawn.

Synopsis Of The First Wives Club

After their friend Cynthia (Channing) ends her own life after discovering her husband has married a much younger woman, former friends, Brenda (Midler), Elise (Hawn) and Annie (Keaton) reignite their friendship. Realising that all their first husbands have divorced them and are now dating younger women, the friends come up with a plan to get their revenge for all the years they all wasted in their first marriages.

Analysis Of The First Wives Club

The First Wives Club has quite a simple plot that works quite well to be effective. Although the film itself begins with a serious, heartbreaking scene where Cynthia (Channing) commits suicide, most of the film has a comedic tone. The comedic tone is carried across through the chemistry between the three main actresses as well as a number of unrealistic situations that the protagonists find themselves in, from dressing up in disguise and going to an auction to breaking into an apartment and getting stuck at the top of a building on a window cleaner lift.

Ultimately, the film shows the importance of friendship, whilst also highlighting the impact of divorce and mistreatment on middle-aged women. Without spoiling the film too much, it is clear to say that the plot of the film and the plan that the women in the film come up with is completely genius and entertaining to watch, as it shows the world from a different perspective as most films from the 20th century are made from the man’s perspective, therefore The First Wives Club comes across as a sense of fresh air away from the social norm.

Representation Of Women

Most films from the 20th century represent women within their roles in a family whether it be a mother, a wife, or a daughter. The First Wives Club successfully breaks this tradition. Although the film is primarily about a group of ex-wives getting revenge on their husbands, it doesn’t show the characters as housewives within the domestic setting. Instead, the film successfully creates a personality for each of these characters, where Brenda (Midler) is shown as an independent, strong, single mother, Elise (Hawn) is shown as a famous actress, who has won an Academy Award, trying to get her career back on track, and Annie (Keaton) is shown as a former housewife, in therapy trying to get her family back together.

The film changes and adapts these representations throughout, as any good film should. Now, the film successfully challenges gender stereotypes. But note that the character Shelly Steward (Sarah Jessica Parker) is a walking stereotype. Indeed, she’s a trophy wife: tall, blonde, and a gold-digger. However, this character doesn’t enforce this stereotype. Instead, it pokes fun to try and move away from the stereotype altogether.

Summary Of The First Wives Club

To summarise, The First Wives Club is a funny, witty, clever film with twists and turns and progressive gender representation. Some of the dialogue is slightly overused and can be seen as rambling. However, this is important to establish small characteristics of the characters. This film is everything you would expect from a comedy film and more.

Content Warning: Sex and Nudity, Alcohol, Drugs and Smoking, Profanity

Recommendation?: Yes

Overall Rating: 8/10 – Very Good