Writer/Director: Adrian Lyne. Starring Scarlett Johansson and Michael Fassbender.
Ellie (Scarlett Johansson) and Rob (Michael Fassbender) are that special kind of couple. The kind of couple who can’t keep their hands off each other because of insane physical chemistry.
Written and directed by Adrian Lyne (Unfaithful, Lolita, Indecent Proposal), the film Woman in White introduces us to Rob and Ellie at a barbecue party amidst the chatter of “normal” couples: Honey, you always forget to lock the car doors. / Frank and I haven’t had sex in two weeks. / Bob brings home the bacon. That’s all I can ask for.
The two quickly excuse themselves from this depressing environment, and the next thing we see is Rob mounting Ellie on the bathroom sink and the two screaming in ecstasy.
Life for Rob and Ellie, of course, couldn’t remain perfect. Things take a dramatic turn when one day, Ellie discovers something troubling.
She has a yeast infection.
She delivers the news to Rob on a rainy evening. She watches him from her car as he sits at the kitchen table, alone, shirtless and looking over paperwork. Just immediately after she enters, Rob knows something is wrong. The two are just so in sync that she could never hide her distress.
“Baby what is it?”
She tells him about the yeast infection. It started earlier that day, and she went to a drug store to buy the necessary treatment.
“What’s the treatment?”
The treatment is 7-day Monistat. For seven days she will have to inject an enormous tube of white cream up her vagina. Consequently, sexual activities will be limited.
He takes off his glasses. This is indeed distressing. He brings her closer and tells her it’ll be okay. He asks her what it feels like, and she says it just burns and itches. It itches a lot, to the point where it’s actually unbearable. Rob pounds his fist on the table.
“What causes it?”
“Sugary foods,” her voice trembles.
“Like what? Cookies? Caramel corn? Cereal? How about fruit?”
“All of it,” she says, shaking her head.
In a dramatic turn, Rob ravages the pantry. He grabs three boxes of cereal, a box of cookies, two pints of ice cream, a jar of jellybeans, and the bowl of fruit on the kitchen counter. He dumps everything into trash bags and walks outside in the rain, hurling them into a dumpster.
A few sleepless nights follow, after which Ellie and Rob remain determined to get through this. One night they attend a dinner party at the same house that hosted the barbecue. Rob whispers to Ellie, “Bathroom?” Ellie, confused by the question, whispers back, “I’m on day five.”
In a beautiful scene that follows (with a piano score by Hans Zimmer), Rob lays a towel on the bathroom floor. He mounts Ellie and dry humps her—circumventing the swamp of miconazole nitrate inside of her—and brings them both to a state of completion, showing the power of their union.
After the seventh day of Monistat, Ellie is finally yeast-free. The two spend the entire weekend having sex in what could best be described as a “sex-after-your-husband-returns-from-war” montage.
A tendril of hair falls across Ellie’s face, which is backlit by a ray of sunlight coming from the open balcony. A wide shot of their bed shows disheveled sheets, damp from sex sweat. A medium shot shows giggling and whispering and more rays of sunlight.
By Tuesday, Ellie is back to work at her art studio where she paints abstract art, as no other job could allow her this degree of sexual freedom. By Wednesday, something starts to feel wrong. Ellie is worried the yeast is back. She makes an emergency visit to her gynecologist, who confirms, after a quick evaluation, that she is having another yeast infection. Ellie asks how this could be possible. She eliminated all sugary foods from her diet. The gynecologist proceeds to drop a bombshell:
“Sex can also cause yeast infections.”
Ellie sits in her car crying. It’s another rainy night. How is she to deliver this news to Rob? It would threaten everything in their relationship. She decides after much deliberation that she simply can’t.
In the bedroom, Rob paces angrily.
“Again!? How is this possible?”
Ellie cries. “I don’t know…”
“Didn’t you visit a doctor?”
“Yes, she said she didn’t know…”
He shakes his head. He knows the story doesn’t add up. He senses his wife lying to him—the two are just so close, there’s no way he could be immune. He picks up the newly purchased box of 7-day Monistat sitting on the bed.
“What is this? Does this even work?!”
He tears through it to find a large tube of cream and seven enormous plastic syringes.
“You’re putting these inside of you every night?”
He already knew this, but he’s acting like it’s new information. Rob has gone completely irrational. He pulls out a syringe and evaluates it closely. It’s around eight inches long.
“You’re not putting these inside of you. Not if I have any say in the matter.”
He throws them at the wall. Ellie sobs and rushes to the floor to gather the syringes. She collects them and sees that there are only six.
“Maybe you got the yeast infection from too much sex with…”
We find Rob, holding the seventh syringe, and jamming it into the nightstand. He breaks down sobbing, and now the two of them are crying. Ellie realizes she has no choice but to tell Rob the truth. In the climax of the film, which ironically is the only plot point when the two characters aren’t climaxing, Ellie reveals her lie. She tells Rob that sex is the cause of her second-round yeast infection.
“It was me?” Rob drops the deformed seventh plastic syringe to the floor.
He rushes to embrace her, apologizing for causing her the pain. In an act of solidarity, Rob and Ellie embark upon a sixty-day period of celibacy, testing the limits of self-control and the constitution of their marriage. They emerge as one, hornier than ever. Ellie goes on a sustainable low-sugar diet and buys the famed book written by Dr. William Crook, The Yeast Connection. The film closes on a shot of this book sitting on Ellie’s nightstand and the sounds of sheets rustling in the background.
A sequel is in the works, whereupon Rob develops a phobia of period blood.
Shirin Najafi is a writer living in Los Angeles. She graduated from Columbia University with a degree in economics and worked in investment banking before deciding to quit and become a writer. She performs the voice of a cat in some videos (www.magicalstew.com) and is currently working on her first novel.