Everyone's talking about Natalie Portman's wonderful performance in Black Swan—but she's playing a more conventional role in February's The Other Woman,  based on Ayelet Waldman's 2006 novel Love and Other Impossible Pursuits. Though Waldman is better known for her controversial writings about motherhood (which she mentions in our interview), I prefer her fiction, which is always nuanced and often presents unusual perspectives. In Love and Other Impossible Pursuits, the other woman is imperfect, but not a villain; her stepson is not an angel who's mistreated by her but a real child who is sometimes difficult to love. As she put it in her interview with BookPage about Love,

"I wanted to write about this feeling that you have when you just don't like a kid. It happens all the time. And I thought, what if that kid is yours and you don't have that maternal bond? Step-parenting seems to be this quintessential dilemma. You're supposed to assume all the affection and devotion of a parent but at the same time this is someone who quite often hates you and who stands between you and your spouse."

I think Portman can give this role the complexity it deserves. Will you see it? Have you read the book?

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