by Elaine Perrone
Save for a breathtaking tour of Paris, Le Divorce is a mess, scattered and unfocused, and, at 125 minutes, way overlong.Stuffed with uninvolving subplots about poets, a painting, and purses (with an Hermes Kelly bag getting its own "Red Balloon" moment over the Parisian rooftops), and an overheated one about a messy divorce and a murderous husband, a terrific cast is completely wasted in what had all the potential and pedigree (Merchant-Ivory) to be a delightful romantic comedy of manners but instead is just a muddled farce.
"This movie should have been annulled."
Particularly given short shrift are Stockard Channing, who has the thankless task of playing American frump foil to Leslie Caron's French snob, and the marvelous Bebe Neuwirth in an inexplicable cameo as a Getty Museum curator. Glenn Close appears in a completely superfluous capacity, on hand, so far as I can determine, just to throw an aging American hippie into the mix of characters.
Kate Hudson, who, for me, has never demonstrated the talent or the screen presence to become anything more than a starlet, plays an especially reprehensible character. As Isabel, the younger sister of Roxeanne (a criminally wasted Naomi Watts), who is going through an acrimonious divorce, she blithely enters into an affair with her sister's soon-to-be-ex-uncle-in-law Edgar, a French politician (Thierry Lhermitte).
Conversely, the immensely talented Matthew Modine simply evokes embarrassment for his participation here, as a murderous stalker, the spouse of the Russian dancer who ditched him for Roxanne's husband.
Seen through the lens of cinematographer Pierre Lhomme, Le Divorce is a gorgeous movie, no question about it, but, for me, it had that sure kiss of death: I started looking at my watch about 30 minutes in and must have checked it at least four times after.If you want to see Paris on screen, my tip would be to pass on this underheated cassoulet, and rent Charade, Diva, or The Day of the Jackal instead.
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originally posted: 07/23/04 14:24:34