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

New Movies

Wind River Movie Review

Wind River Movie Review

After writing the superb Sicario and Hell or High Water, Taylor Sheridan moves back into...

The Vault Movie Review

The Vault Movie Review

Filmmakers Dan Bush and Conal Byrne attempt a mash-up of a frantic heist movie with...

Goon: Last of the Enforcers Movie Review

Goon: Last of the Enforcers Movie Review

The 2012 Canadian comedy Goon was one of those surprising little films that snuck up...

Detroit Movie Review

Detroit Movie Review

After The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty, Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal reteam to...

Logan Lucky Movie Review

Logan Lucky Movie Review

Good news: Steven Soderbergh's well-publicised retirement from directing only lasted about four years. He's back...

American Made Movie Review

American Made Movie Review

An enjoyably freewheeling tone and Tom Cruise's star wattage combine to make this an entertaining...

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power Movie Review

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power Movie Review

It's been a decade since Al Gore's wake-up-call documentary won the Oscar. And here he...

Advertisement
The Hitman's Bodyguard Movie Review

The Hitman's Bodyguard Movie Review

It really doesn't matter that this movie is utterly ridiculous, because the central pairing of...

Final Portrait Movie Review

Final Portrait Movie Review

A relaxed, amusing true story about noted Swiss painter and sculptor Alberto Giacometti, this sharply...

Tom of Finland Movie Review

Tom of Finland Movie Review

Finnish artist Tuoko Laaksonen used the name "Tom of Finland" as he drew explicit illustrations...

A Ghost Story Movie Review

A Ghost Story Movie Review

Filmmaker David Lowery reunites the stars from his offbeat Western Ain't Them Bodies Saints for...

Atomic Blonde Movie Review

Atomic Blonde Movie Review

From the co-director of John Wick, this similarly styled action romp puts Charlize Theron front...

Girls Trip Movie Review

Girls Trip Movie Review

This movie's premise basically sounds like The Hangover with added black girl power. But it's...

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie Movie Review

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie Movie Review

There's so much manic energy in this animated action comedy that it can't help but...

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.