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DE-LOVELY

Cole Porter, surely one of the most urbane Americans to have been born and bred in Indiana, married a chic New York socialite and lived gaily, if grimly, ever after.

CAST: Kevin Kline, Ashley Judd, Jonathan Pryce, Kevin McNally, Allan Corduner, Sandra Nelson, Kieth Allen, James Wilby, Kevin McKidd, Peter Polycarpou, Richard Dillane, Edward Baker-Duly, Elvis Costello, Natalie Cole, Sheryl Crow, Mick Hucknall, Alanis Morissette, Diana Krall, Robbie Williams, Caroline O’Connor

DIRECTOR: Irwin Winkler

SCREENWRITER: Jay Cocks

 

"Director Irwin Winkler and screenwriter Jay Cocks focus on the homosexual Porter's marriage to socialite Linda Lee. But they squander the potential of such an intriguing relationship by depicting the glamorous couple as frivolous gadabouts with the hearts and souls of ice sculptures. Porter is portrayed by Oscar-winner Kevin Kline without subtlety; he's so changelessly happy-go-lucky — even while breaking Linda's heart — that he seems merely shallow and self-centered. Linda (Ashley Judd, taking a break from cop thrillers) puts up with her husband's homosexual flings — presumably because he's just so darned charming — weeps silently and smokes a lot...The songs are plonked down according to how their lyrics fit a scene, rather than being arranged to make any chronological sense." --Megan Lehmann, The New York Post

"Lethally inert…a movie so lifeless and drained of genuine joie de vivre it makes you long for the largely fictional earlier film…‘Night and Day’ at least had a sense of style. It may be factually absurd, but it glides along like a Porter song…Watching ‘De-Lovely,’ which unfolds as a bumpy, muddled ‘This Is Your Life’ series of confusing, overcrowded tableaus, you have the creepy sense of watching adult children (with the singular exception of Mr. Kline, who can surmount any disaster) dressed up in period costume at a school pageant. Ms. Judd's performance, in particular, is clueless as to style." --Stephen Holden, The New York Times

"The movie is remarkably touching and engrossing, with Kline's spot-on acting and realistically second-rate singing balancing Judd's one-note performance as his wife. It's too bad Jay Cocks's screenplay spends far too long winding Porter's story up, but overall the tuneful comedy-drama is every bit as de-lovely as its title promises." --David Sterritt, The Christian Science Monitor

"‘De-Lovely’ is openly gay and overwhelmingly glum…The disconnect is particularly acute when Winkler begins evoking '20s sophistication with anachronistic interpolations from the 1956 movie ‘High Society’…Winkler takes care to quote the famously bad 1946 Cole Porter story, ‘Night and Day,’ but if that was a minor tragedy, his remake is closer to unfunny farce." --J. Hoberman, The Village Voice

"Kevin Kline does a fine job portraying Porter as he's written. But the script is missing much of the complexity and some of the humanity of the composer, one of the greats of the 20th century. ‘De-Lovely’ is primarily about Porter's extraordinary relationship with his wife, Linda Lee Porter, played by Ashley Judd in one of her best roles since her debut in 1993's ‘Ruby in Paradise’…Viewers might be put off by Kline's efforts to sing as Cole Porter…in his quest for authenticity, he uses a voice that might grate on audiences." --Claudia Puig, USA Today

"What’s missing from this dreary, tin-eared fiasco is any sense of the genius and humanity of Porter himself. No heart, no soul, no brains, no fun…As Linda, Ashley Judd is scarily inept, a giggly, beaming helpmate who copes with every crisis by lighting up another cigarette. Kevin Kline seems basically uncomfortable as the boy from Indiana who discovers he likes boys from Indiana and practically everywhere else in the world. His Porter lacks warmth, humor, compassion and dignity. Maybe the man who turned out ‘Anything Goes’ and ‘Kiss Me Kate’ really was an irresponsible narcissist. If so, why bother to tell his story--why not just listen to his music?" --Guy Flatley, Moviecrazed

"You enter a movie with that title, prepared to be enchanted. You struggle out a couple of hours later, lost in a fog of gloom. For this film’s makers grimly insist that the songwriter’s life was essentially a betrayal of his impeccably sophisticated art when they might have more profitbly seen his work as a gallant triumph over the difficulties of a messy life…Kline suggests Porter’s intractable snootiness but none of his perpetually boyish elan. Judd mostly simpers." --Richard Schickel, Time Magazine

"There are terrific performances from Kline and Judd, some breathtaking staging and production design, and, of course, some of the best music and lyrics of the 20th century …‘De-Lovely’ is night and day over ‘Night and Day’…Winkler neither avoids nor exploits the composer's homosexuality. It's always present, but the film's focus is on the strangely powerful bond that held the Porters' sexless marriage together for more than 30 years." --Jack Mathews, The New York Daily News

"‘De-Lovely’ is effervescent, in the manner of a cold-cuts platter that never made it out of the car at the beach picnic. Under the plastic bubble, it's generating gas… Judd is a one-woman lumber yard, beautiful and smug, with a face frozen in a sanctimonious smirk. Her selfrighteous nobility makes Linda Cole into a martyr of heterosexuality, which itself skews the supposed ‘morality’ of the movie…The intricacies of the Porter marriage, central to screenwriter Jay Cocks' witheringly stupid script, share the screen with an album's worth of musical performances, which will be touted by many as the movie's saving grace. Unfortunately, Winkler here, too, shows a tin ear… ‘De-Lovely’ just seems de-ranged." --John Anderson, Newsday

"From all accounts, Cole Porter did have fun. He was also sly and witty and the essence of style, and 'De-Lovely' is none of these things. The usually blithe, exuberant Kline seems at a loss here...Judd is worse. Swanning around in Armani, her eyes lustrous with empathy, her smile bright and fixed, she does almost nothing during the entire film but smoke...Such glorious Porter classics as 'What Is This Thing Called Love?,' 'Night and Day,' 'Begin the Beguine' and 'Love for Sale' are performed by pop stars like Sheryl Crowe, Elvis Costello and Alanis Morissette. The results are not happy... It’s not until the end of the film, when you hear the real Cole Porter—sexy, elegant, full of mischief, doing 'You’re the Top'-- that you start smiling." --Diane Baroni, Moviecrazed

"… a likable but plodding blend of strenuous style and canned psychology…Winkler doesn’t skimp on Porter’s subterranean gay life, but his approach is polite and gingerly, as if he’s holding his nose…Winkler never ventures any truly muscular speculation about the glue that held together the partnership between a man who gallantly stepped up to try for the baby his wife longed for yet kept her waiting night and day while he dallied with beautiful boys, and a woman so devoted (or controlling) that she ended up as his procurer…as a portrait of an unusual marriage it’s de-lumbering, de-liberate and de-cidedly flat." --Ella Taylor, LA Weekly

"Marred by a decorum more appropriate to some of the old MGM musicals Porter worked on, as well as dialogue so clunky it surely would have distressed the clever lyricist's ears, ‘De-Lovely’ is too flatly refined to evoke the turbulent existence it examines…Kline gives one of his standard, sensitive-yet-not-very-cutting acting jobs." --Bob Strauss, L.A. Daily News

"Kevin Kline catches, without appearing to try, that blissful, tart mix of sophistication and gaiety (in both senses) that marked the real Porter…Despite its frankness and many resources, ‘De-Lovely's’ lavish bio has a slightly hollow ring… Cocks' script is sketchy and the movie itself not the sip of cinematic champagne we'd like it to be…The name Cole Porter remains a kind of a passkey to a vanished world of wit, elegance, irony and pop sensuality, and I only wish the movie had unlocked more doors, opened up more of that world." --Michael Wilmington, Chicago Tribune