USA/France, 2003. Rated PG-13. 117 minutes.
Naomi Watts, Kate Hudson, Leslie Caron, Melvil Pupad, Thierry Lhermitte,
Samuel Labarthe, Stockard Channing, Thomas Lennon, Sam Waterston, Glenn
Close, Romain Duris, Jean-Marc Barr, Bebe Neuwirth, Stephen Fry, Matthew
|Grade: C||Review by Claudia Smurthwaite|
ased on the previews and not having read the book, this film seems misnamed. Divorce? It looks like a romantic comedy starring Kate Hudson as Isabel, an American in Paris looking for loveor at least a lover. But romantic comedies are supposed to be funny and romantic, and Le Divorce is neither.
The divorceyes, there is oneis between Isabel's pregnant sister Roxanne (Naomi Watts), an aspiring poet, and her French husband, painter Henri-Charles. Not exactly the stuff of comedy. A dramedy, perhaps? Not so much. Le Divorce can't really make up its mind. Are we supposed to cheer when Isabel becomes someone's mistress? (So much for independent women.) Cry when Roxy can't cope with her situation? Boo and hiss at the French and their disdain for Americans? The most interesting subplot is that of Roxy's mysterious St. Ursula painting, a garage sale find passed down to the girls' father. Complicating the division of property is the matter of who owns the painting and the possibility that it is the work of 17th Century French painter Georges La Tour.
Other than the country house of Henri-Charles's mother (played by the wonderful Leslie Caron), James Ivory manages to make France, and Paris in particular look exceptionally unromantic. The fine supporting castSam Waterston and Stockard Channing as Isabel and Roxanne's parents, Glenn Close, Bebe Neuwirth, and Matthew Modine (whose character turns out to be quite different than the previews make him out to be)can't make sense of the muddle. The aforementioned Caron, who makes so few movies these days, is done a disservice by the script. Is she an overindulgent mother or a French cliché?
The opening titles are clever and, graphically, the simple closing credits were eye-catchingfaint praise, I know. I enjoy romantic comedies as much as most, if not more, but Le Divorce is not a sweet French pastry, but more like a soggy french fry.
© August 2003 by AboutFilm.Com and the author.
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