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

The Belko Experiment Movie Review

The Belko Experiment Movie Review

The kill-or-die scenario that this movie hinges on isn't something new; it's been used in...

The Fate of the Furious Movie Review

The Fate of the Furious Movie Review

With the more dumbed-down title Fast & Furious 8 outside of North America, this overcrowded...

A Quiet Passion Movie Review

A Quiet Passion Movie Review

British writer-director Terence Davies (The Deep Blue Sea) is an expert at digging beneath the...

The Sense of an Ending Movie Review

The Sense of an Ending Movie Review

Julian Barnes' Booker Prize-winning novel is adapted into a remarkably intelligent, gently involving film anchored...

The Boss Baby Movie Review

The Boss Baby Movie Review

There isn't a lot of subtlety in this madcap animated comedy, which is more aimed...

City of Tiny Lights Movie Review

City of Tiny Lights Movie Review

After the latest incarnation of Dredd, director Pete Travis shifts gears drastically for this complex...

Going in Style Movie Review

Going in Style Movie Review

This is only technically a remake of the iconic 1979 film starring movie icons George...

Advertisement
Graduation Movie Review

Graduation Movie Review

Romanian filmmaker Cristian Mungiu (4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days) recounts another staggeringly detailed...

Ghost in the Shell Movie Review

Ghost in the Shell Movie Review

This sci-fi thriller is so visually stunning that it deserves to be mentioned in the...

Free Fire Movie Review

Free Fire Movie Review

Basically a 90-minute shoot-out, there isn't a lot to this movie. British filmmaker Ben Wheatley...

Life Movie Review

Life Movie Review

Like a mash-up of Alien and Gravity, this ripping sci-fi horror movie is very effective...

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

Based on a true story, it's the historical aspect of these events that holds the...

Chips Movie Review

Chips Movie Review

It's clear from the very start that this movie has little to do with the...

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...

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.