“How to Please a Woman” is a little Australian comedy film which cheerfully handles female sexual desire and yearning without any pretension. Although it could delve more into its interesting main subjects in my humble opinion, the movie often amuses and delights us via a series of humorous moments to be savored, and it is also supported well by the earnest performance from its engaging lead actress.
Sally Phillips plays Gina, a married middle-aged woman who has not been that happy in her mundane middle-class life. While her and her lawyer husband have lived fairly well together for years, there has not been much romantic feeling between them, and her husband does not seem to be particularly interested in her while often busy with his work. At least, she has worked in a local liquidation agency instead being stuck in her house, but she is usually disregarded by her boss, who does not appreciate her much while constantly demanding her to do one thing after another.
Anyway, Gina usually gets some comfort and cheerfulness from her several friends in a local female swimming club, and one of them gives her a little surprise on her birthday. A young man named Tom (Alexander England) suddenly comes to her house, and it soon turns out that he works as a male stripper, though he is not that good despite his basic professionalism.
Feeling rather embarrassed about this little surprise, Gina simply instructs Tom to do some cleaning instead during their next two hours, and then she gets a little interesting idea. As Tom does some cleaning in his shirtless appearance, she cannot help but feel the sexual need inside her, and she eventually decides to start a little service business which provides not only house cleaning but also sexual pleasure to women like her. Incidentally, she knows a little local moving service company on the verge of being shut down and then liquidated, so she takes over the company without hesitation while re-hiring its several male employees including Tom, who actually also works there for earning some support money for the baby of his ex-girlfriend.
Of course, the first several days of Gina’s little service business are not so easy to say the least, and some of the most hilarious moments in the film come from how she and her employees try to make their first step. While many of Gina’s friends are quite interested, most of them want much more than mere cleaning service, so Gina reluctantly agrees to go along with their desire, but her employees are not prepared enough to say the least. Tom has no problem with providing whatever his clients want, but he still needs some advices on how to provide a satisfying cleaning service. In case of one of his fellow employees, this dude is confident about his, uh, certain body part, but it soon turns out that he really needs some education on how to give his clients a real sexual pleasure.
Although it keeps everything as mild and pleasant as possible without being too explicit and raunchy, the movie freely explores female sexual desire with considerable honesty. In case of one friend/client of Gina, she wants to test the range of her sexuality, and that leads to an amusing scene between her and some other friend of Gina, who willingly fills the spot not eligible for Gina’s male employees.
In the meantime, Gina also becomes more aware of how she has sexually been discontent for years. She actually tries to ignite some romantic spark between her and her husband, but her husband only comes to let down her a lot, and she subsequently finds herself attracted to Steve (Erik Thomson), a middle-aged guy who ran the moving service company before she acquired it. He has no problem with working under her while providing her some extra help, and she surely appreciates that, but they also become more aware of their mutual attraction – especially after their rather silly moment involved with a little certain object given to her.
Of course, the situation becomes a little more serious later in the story, but the screenplay by writer/director Renée Webster does not lose any of its sense of humor, and neither does Phillips’ good performance. While steadily maintaining her character’s unflappable appearance, Phillips ably conveys to us Gina’s gradual sexual liberation along the story, and we certainly root for Gina when she comes to her feelings more than before.
Around Phillips, several supporting performers in the film have each own fun with their respective roles. While Erik Thompson subtly clicks well with Philips during their several key scenes, Hayley McElhinney, Caroline Brazier, and Tasma Walton are entertaining as Gina’s colorful friends, and Alexander England, Ryan Johnson, and Josh Thomson are also funny as their characters try to adjust themselves to their new job.
Although it arrives at its ending in a little too convenient way, “How to Please a Woman” provides breezy fun and pleasure as much as we can expect from its naughty story promise, and it will probably make a nice double feature show with “Good Luck to You, Rio Grande” (2022), another recent comedy film which also honestly and humorously deals with female sexual desire. As many of you know, we still need more female films these days, and this is certainly another good one to watch.