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Overall Rating

Awesome: 11.48%
Worth A Look: 22.95%
Just Average42.62%
Pretty Crappy: 18.03%
Sucks: 4.92%

6 reviews, 25 user ratings

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by Elaine Perrone

"Strange, Dear, but (sorta) true, Dear..."
4 stars

Oddities, and anomalies, abound in De-Lovely, not the least of which is Irwin Winkler (Life as a House) as director of this musical tribute to Cole Porter, which is also a highly romanticized portrait of his marriage of convenience to Linda Lee Thomas.

One has to wonder how much higher this movie could have soared in the hands of Baz Luhrmann, with an actor more consistently suited to his part (and one better matched to his co-star's), with a script less clunky than this one penned by Jay Cocks.

De-Lovely gets off to a dreadful start with Jonathan Pryce entering the scene as "Gabe," a celestial messenger dispatched to usher a dying Porter (Kevin Kline) through a re-enactment of his life as a staged musical, opening with his introduction to Linda (Ashley Judd) at a party in Paris. Every time the play-within-a-movie starts to get absorbing, the audience is jarred out of its reverie by the tableau crashing to a halt and the camera panning "offstage" to where Gabe and Porter are carrying on some snippet of conversation about what the two of them are viewing.

Kevin Kline is a marvelous actor, a perfect choice for the role of an urbane Cole Porter in middle age, but he is simply too old to make a convincing Porter as a young up-and-comer. Ashley Judd is sensational as Linda Porter, a sophisticated woman of means, one with such innate style that she sleeps wearing Mikimoto pearls. Linda was also eight years her husband's senior, making the 21 year disparity between the two actors' ages (in the other direction) often jarring.

Too, it is never made at all clear why we're supposed to buy into the notion of Linda Porter being the love of her openly, and highly actively, homosexual spouse's life. We see her accept his proposal of marriage with a quip about him being more interested in men than she is, and she remains tolerant of his many dalliances for years, until she feels he has become indiscreet. (His rejoiner to her charge of indiscretion: "I was never discreet.") Judd and Kline play the relationship as being, for the most part, platonic, one of great mutual respect and love certainly, but I never for one second perceived Linda as being the "one great love" of the promiscuous Cole's life.

Where De-Lovely really soars is in the performances of many of Cole Porter's wonderful songs by a bevy of today's talented artists, including Kevin Kline, who disguises his own beautifully-trained voice in order to sound more like the non-singing composer. Among the many terrific renditions of Cole Porter standards are Elvis Costello's "Let's Misbehave," John Barrowman and Kevin Kline's "Night and Day," Vivian Green's "Love for Sale," and a nearly unrecognizable Mick Hucknall (Simply Red) as Nelson Eddy crooning "I Love You." If forced to choose standouts among this embarrassment of riches, I'd go with Alanis Morissette's breezy "Let's Do It (Let's Fall in Love)," Australian songbird Caroline O'Connor as Ethel Merman belting out "Anything Goes," the aforementioned "Night and Day," and Lara Fabian and Mario Frangoulis' sumptuous duet "So in Love" from Kiss Me, Kate.

Also noteworthy are the film's technical aspects: The art direction and lighting are stunning, the sets and costumes exquisite. The tour of Paris and Venice through the lens of DP Tony Pierce-Roberts is breathtaking, elevating De-Lovely on its own from "so-so" to "well worth a look."

Go for the music and the scenery, stay for the movie, then rush out and buy the soundtrack.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=9597&reviewer=376
originally posted: 07/16/04 16:05:45
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 CineVegas Film Festival. For more in the 2004 CineVegas Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Sydney Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Sydney Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

5/24/11 xfather123 C7ybFR this is delisious! xfather123 2 stars
9/02/10 L. Slusarczyk Love Kline in this and the music. Wish there was more Barrowman :D 5 stars
10/24/07 Ivana Mann Neutered, covertly homophobic drivel! Porter must be turning in his grave! 1 stars
3/18/07 Ed Brusaw Loved it. Loved it. Loved it 4 stars
2/27/06 Rich Milczarek An exhilarating tribute to the genius of Cole Porter - Kline is De-Lightful! 5 stars
12/30/05 tatum Kline's good, but Porter's life isn't put into context 4 stars
8/07/05 BoyInTheDesignerBubble Love for sale sequence is pure genius. The rest falls a bit flat. 4 stars
8/03/05 Captain Craig Anyone who doesnt think this film is fabulos probably liked Star Wars! 5 stars
3/06/05 ad nicely done 4 stars
2/19/05 David Siegel A disappointing, sometimes confusing quasi-biopic that finds the pathos and loses the joy. 2 stars
1/31/05 Kenneth Hannan Gorgeous, touching film. 4 stars
1/31/05 Alison Mosbeck Not nearly as good as I'd hoped...Finding Neverland was much better 2 stars
1/28/05 darlenecom I had been so looking forward to seeing this one. 3 stars
1/18/05 Leon Hoffman Powerful! Poignant! Out of this musical world! 5 stars
10/18/04 Misty De Meo It's de-lovely. ;3 It had some rough points, but I thoroughly enjoyed myself. 4 stars
10/04/04 cpu Gorgeous, fantastic music, clunky sure, but it's a MOVIE! 5 stars
8/23/04 Bruce Lamb Boring and pretentious. Frame plot was stolen from All that Jazz. No suspense. 2 stars
7/25/04 Ogden Nield Superbly done enactment of Porter's eccentric life. Oscar performances by Kline and Judd. 5 stars
7/23/04 buddy garrett The music is great. Cole Porter is acted well. 4 stars
7/19/04 Suzz kline is great; imaginatively staged;current singers did not do Porter justice 5 stars
7/15/04 dt great songs and look of period-I liked it a lot 4 stars
7/03/04 ZF Stilted, static, shallow, no depth of character. And the music was usually performed badly. 1 stars
7/02/04 Boyinthedesignerbubble The Porter biography is a good read, the movie, sadly leaves out interesting facts. 3 stars
6/23/04 Lauren Nissen Maybe it was because I had to pee really bad, but it never caught my attention. 2 stars
6/15/04 Brent Usry Throw a few big names on the screen, use a great camera and pray for distribution. Pathetic 1 stars
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  02-Jul-2004 (PG-13)
  DVD: 21-Dec-2004



Directed by
  Irwin Winkler

Written by
  Jay Cocks

  Kevin Kline
  Ashley Judd
  Jonathan Pryce
  Angie Hill
  Sheryl Crow
  Elvis Costello

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