De-Lovely

"Very Good"

De-Lovely Review


In a darkened room an elderly man sits at a piano. He's barely outlined by light from a window, his face obscured in shadow. Then, a light fades up, spotlighting him, followed by light everywhere. Thus starts De-Lovely and its style of self-aware artificiality. It purports to be the life of composer Cole Porter (Kevin Kline) but there's little more here than a grand retrospective of his ingenious touch with a pop song and an attempt at scandalizing his personal, bisexual life.

Like a symphony that's incomplete because all the notes aren't available, what I didn't get out of this is a three-dimensional portrait of the subject. The show, structured as a dead or dying man's vision of his life played out like a movie and stage production, is loaded with talent and a detailed recreation of his period. The portrayal of the swank, rich life is as festive to behold as it is off-putting. The world in which Porter whirls and commands with assured, inevitable success is an alien one. Rather than feel a part of it, we are there to revel in the entertainment.

As for Kline's performance, I don't know what I was more bothered by, his smirk or his strut. He wore the stylish costumes well, though.

Ashley Judd provides the glamour necessary to be convincing as Linda, the female love of Porter's life, and a wife who was ready to support and enable his physical compulsions to men to an extent difficult to comprehend. But the level of devotion that sustained her heroic toleration (if it was that) wears down by years of the marriage's philandering reality, only the surface of which is allowed to enter the scenario. She is as much window dressing for the picture as she might have been for the real man's social standing. A psychological study of this deprived woman's basis for such sacrifice would offer more dramatic bite than this pretty, somewhat suspect, picture.

Jonathan Pryce is Gabe, the entrepreneur who, in Porter's aged mind, is putting on the show of his life. He speaks with a sense of breathless import as he lays out the acts of the production, even those that Porter would rather not dwell on.

The appearances of hip modern divas stepping away from their signature singing styles to take on the Porter magic was, for me, a highlight. Alanis Morissette is off the charts on "Let's Do It, Let's Fall In Love" and Sheryl Crow is the cat's meow on "Begin the Beguine," both trying their best but showing the stretch marks of unfamiliar delivery. Some would say awkward, but I thought the effort worthy of some appreciation. Diana Krall, Elvis Costello, and Natalie Cole lend their more-in-touch luster, and I wound up wishing the young, musical-oriented Linda Ronstadt was around. Costuming and set design are undeniable hits.

It must have seemed a great privilege for director Irwin Winkler (who last worked with Kevin Kline on Life as a House), and screenwriter Jay Cocks (Gangs of New York) to bring the work of this legend to the screen. Their aim seems to be a grand retrospective of his ingenious touch with a pop song and an attempt to humanize his homosexual life while still scandalizing it. But success for a film biography depends on more than a handsome production with a nostalgic playlist. The need for an emotional connection to the main character won't be satisfied by gold plating a man whose essential qualities, besides a talent that has enriched our musical heritage, is that he's ultra sophisticated, cool to an adoring wife, and absorbed in his gay exploits.

Having said all that, if you're seriously into musicals, you won't want to miss it.

Two commentary tracks, a making-of featurette, two "Anatomy of a Scene" featurettes, and deleted scenes round out a rich DVD.

Aka De-lovely.

Let's hear it for the boy.



De-Lovely

Facts and Figures

Run time: 125 mins

In Theaters: Friday 1st October 2004

Box Office USA: $13.1M

Budget: $20M

Distributed by: United Artists

Production compaines: MGM

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 48%
Fresh: 74 Rotten: 81

IMDB: 6.6 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Cole Porter, as Linda Porter, as Gabriel, as Gerald Murphy, as Sarah Murphy, as Monty Woolley, Peter Polycarpou as Louis B. Mayer, as Irving Berlin, as Edward Thomas, Peter Jessop as Diaghilev, as Ethel Merman

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

Contactmusic 2017 Exclusive

New Movies

Beauty And The Beast Movie Review

Beauty And The Beast Movie Review

This remake of Disney's 1991 classic is remarkably faithful, using present-day digital animation effects to...

The Salesman Movie Review

The Salesman Movie Review

Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi won his second Oscar with this astute drama which, like 2011's...

Get Out Movie Review

Get Out Movie Review

Leave it to a comedian to make one of the scariest movies in recent memory....

Personal Shopper Movie Review

Personal Shopper Movie Review

After winning a series of major awards for her role in Olivier Assayas' Clouds of...

Certain Women Movie Review

Certain Women Movie Review

In films like Wendy and Lucy and Meek's Cutoff, writer-director Kelly Reichardt has told sharply...

Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

After the success of 2014's Godzilla reboot, the Warner Bros monsters get their own franchise,...

Viceroy's House Movie Review

Viceroy's House Movie Review

Filmmaker Gurinder Chada (Bend It Like Beckham) draws on her own family history to explore...

Advertisement
Trespass Against Us Movie Review

Trespass Against Us Movie Review

With an extra dose of attitude and energy, this Irish comedy-drama hits us like a...

Logan Movie Review

Logan Movie Review

Hugh Jackman returns to his signature role one last time (so he says), reuniting with...

Patriots Day Movie Review

Patriots Day Movie Review

The third time's a charm for Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg, who previously teamed...

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

It's no surprise that this creep-out horror thriller is packed with whizzy visual invention, since...

It's Only the End of the World Movie Review

It's Only the End of the World Movie Review

At just 27 years old, Canadian filmmaker Xavier Dolan has an almost overwhelming set of...

Hidden Figures Movie Review

Hidden Figures Movie Review

This film recounts such a great true story that we don't mind the fact that...

The Founder Movie Review

The Founder Movie Review

This is the story of Ray Kroc, the man who created the concept of McDonald's....

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.