Yesterday’s Other Woman riff was mainly about how Nick Cassevetes‘ hit-and-miss film, although by no means on the level of Lubitsch or Wilder, was at least better (i.e., “not half bad”) than the dumbass downmarket girly-girl film that 20th Century Fox marketing has been selling. Variety‘s Justin Chang has ignored this discrepancy and just reviewed it head-on. Chang is less admiring than myself (okay, he’s 65% dismissive), but he also feels it’s an interesting mixed-bag.

The Other Woman often feels stranded between gross-out comedy, romantic fantasy and distaff psychodrama in a way that compels fascination and impatience alike,” he says at mid-point. “The film’s structure and pacing feel haphazard at best, the musical choices clumsily tacked on, the raunchy elements weak and unnecessary. There are moments when Cassavetes seems to be operating on Hollywood-hack autopilot, and others when you can almost feel him nudging the production in the sort of rougher, more offbeat character-driven direction that his famous father, John, might well have encouraged.

“This unevenness has become perhaps Cassavetes’ defining aspect as a filmmaker, evident in his unpredictable choice of material (The Notebook, Alpha Dog, My Sister’s Keeper) and in the curious jumble of moods and styles he achieves with almost every picture. Indeed, it’s this sense of tonal clash that largely distinguishes The Other Woman, which feels like a movie productively at war with itself, taking its cues from the temperaments of its two central characters: It’s lurching and volatile one minute, judgmental and calculating the next. And it’s a testament to the actresses involved” — Leslie Mann and Cameron Diaz — “that we emerge with an appreciably strong sense of who their characters are.”