Women empowerment is a popular theme in modern cinema. While most films are focused on teenagers and young adults, How to Please a Woman, written and directed by Renée Webster, is trying to talk about life issues of a different group of women who are being sidelined because of their age: middle-aged women!
Gina (Sally Phillips) is a middle-aged woman working at a legal firm. She has a normal life; actually, too normal because all she does is follow her daily soulless routine. However, when her friends surprise Gina on her birthday with a male sex worker, she remembers what being alive used to feel like. Inspired by that experience, Gina starts a secret company that provides all-male cleaning and sexual services at the same time. Soon enough, many women are signing up for the service.
The idea behind How to Please a Woman is more interesting than the movie itself. The motion picture is trying to rule out the cliche that middle-aged women are no longer interested in sex. The filmmaker’s message is quite simple: everyone deserves sexual satisfaction regardless of their age or gender. The shame of having sex in middle-aged and elderly couples is a common issue that many scientific studies have confirmed. The romantic comedy brings this issue to the spotlight and asks the audience to take the sexual needs of middle-aged and elderly people seriously.
“…Gina starts a secret company that provides all-male cleaning and sexual services…”
What the movie lacks is a true challenge for the protagonist. In her quest to run the controversial business, Gina does not encounter any significant challenges until the very end. Everything seems to be working fine, and the only bumps she faces on her road are those in her personal life. Unfortunately, even those personal issues of the main character are limited to not having sex with her husband for the last couple of years. That makes How to Please a Woman feel mostly like a documentary about a controversial entrepreneur rather than a romance or comedy.
Sally Phillips’ acting skills are a delight and on full display throughout the rom-com. She starts as a shy office worker but evolves into a powerful influencer by the end. Phillips manages to exhibit this evolution brilliantly and honestly. Unfortunately, she is the only star in the film. Other actors and actresses do not get a decent chance to be anything more than side characters. The movie does not bother itself to create a compelling backstory for the other characters, and in rare cases, such as Tom (Alexander England), who is constantly checking on his pregnant ex-girlfriend, the results are vague and difficult to follow.
How to Please a Woman is not the usual romantic comedy that everyone expects to see these days. It is trying to connect with a specific audience, and I think it is successful in doing so. This is not a film for everyone, but those who sit through Gina’s story will learn a valuable lesson: you only live once, and it is never too late to start enjoying life.
"…Phillips' acting skills are a delight..."