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LE DIVORCE

Two American sisters—one pregnant and abandoned by her French husband, the other single and in search of romance—find not only romance in Paris, but also intrigue, melodrama and tres pictorial splendor.

CAST: Kate Hudson, Naomi Watts, Jean-Marc Barr, Sam Waterston, Glenn Close, Stockard Channing, Leslie Caron, Matthew Modine, Stephen Fry, Bebe Neuwirth,Thierry Lhermitte, Thomas Lennon, Rona Hartner, Romain Duris

DIRECTOR: James Ivory

"…a thin and unsatisfying concoction that somehow manages to make one of the richest and most durable sources of culture-clash comedy into an occasion for dullness…The virtue of Diane Johnson's novel lay not in its profundity — a comedy of manners is by definition an affair of surfaces — but in its sparkle and its speed, qualities notably lacking in Mr. Ivory's direction. The story is hectic and stuffed with odd characters, but the film never achieves the rhythm or velocity of farce. It plods from one thing to the next, systematically missing every opportunity for effervescence or surprise…Paris has rarely seemed so thoroughly scrubbed of dazzle or intrigue; this movie might as well have been shot at Disney World…It is tough work to sit through a comedy made by filmmakers with so little sense of timing and no evident sense of humor." --A.O. Scott, The New York Times

"There is so little feeling for the actual city that we might as well be looking at a studio backdrop…It may be that Merchant Ivory need the armature of the past in order to create a sense of the present. ‘Le Divorce’ is mustier than any of their movies set back in time." Peter Rainer, New York Magazine

"‘Le Divorce’ is a hip, contemporary romantic comedy, but it has all of director James Ivory’s informed compassion for lavish detail, his usual all-star ensemble of stylish personalities spread across a crowded canvas of complex emotions, dozens of settings throughout Paris, and another script of wit and intelligence by Mr. Ivory and the unofficial third member of the Merchant-Ivory team, Ruth Prawer Jhabvala…Kate Hudson, as the film’s centerpiece, more than makes up for the lame work she’s done in her last four films, and the rest of the performances are juicy as profiteroles and stylish as Lanvin." --Rex Reed, The New York Observer

"At times it's hard to believe the deeply disappointing ‘Le Divorce’ is really the work of the wonderful Merchant Ivory filmmaking team…who could have known they might be capable of making something as lumpy, dull-edged and sometimes bovinely crude as ‘Le Divorce’?…its observations are what you'd expect of a college kid after a summer in Paris. And its characters are too often mere cartoons, and faded ones at that…the film lurches from clunky comedy to melodrama and back. Worse, it feels both overstuffed and brutally cut down to a two-hour length… Hudson, though made to look awful, gives a game performance as the American ingenue…But poor Naomi Watts is never able to make her inadequately drawn character make any sense." --Jonathan Foreman, The New York Post

"The French may be guilty of some bad behavior, but that's no reason to punish them with the shapeless, deceptively crass ‘Le Divorce,’ a Merchant-Ivory production in which all things Gallic are reduced to quirks of snobbery, misogyny and haute selfishness…Hudson is adorable, as usual, and Watts is racking up an impressive rèsumè, but the two hardly seem to be in the same movie…the boorish jokes about clueless Americans and ridiculous Frenchies are presented without finesse or point." --Jami Bernard, The New York Daily News

"…a bonbon spiked with delicious wit and malice. Kate Hudson is a firecracker as Isabel, a California girl new to Paris…Ivory, who co-wrote the deft script with Jhabvala, has great fun throwing these two screwy worlds together until they fizz. The only misstep, shared with the book, is the character of the jealous husband (Matthew Modine)…‘Le Divorce’ -- acted with relish by a note-perfect cast -- is a romantic comedy of true sophistication. There's a sting in every laugh." --Peter Travers, Rolling Stone

"‘Le Divorce’ should have been a smart bit of cinematic froth but instead sinks like an overworked souffle. It's at times like these that one can appreciate even the most mannered of Woody Allen's upper-crust frolics…scads of subplots run through ‘Le Divorce,’ one less interesting than the next… By the time everything comes together -- all neatly tucked into the Hermes purse that serves as the film's recurring trope -- viewers won't be charmed by ‘Le Divorce's’ happy endings as much as relieved that it's finally fin." --Ann Hornaday, The Washington Post

"… a frothy concoction with many light and lissome moments, a strong undercurrent of serious domestic drama, and a commitment to themes that have fascinated Merchant Ivory for ages…moviegoers will find echoes of many perennial Merchant Ivory themes in its bittersweet story: family conflict, an interest in European culture, and a fascination with the ambivalent attitudes held by self-confident Americans toward the more sophisticated civilization that lies just across the Atlantic…Its weakest point -- very surprising in a Merchant Ivory movie -- is its acting, especially when Mr. Modine enters as the overwrought husband of the Russian bimbo…‘Le Divorce’ is no masterpiece, but that shouldn't dissuade moviegoers from giving it a whirl as a flavorful alternative to the summer's more gimmicky fare." --David Sterritt, The Christian Science Monitor

"While I don't know who's to blame for some of ‘Le Divorce's’ tonally incongruous detours toward the end -- a sequence involving firearms on the Eiffel Tower is particularly unfortunate -- the novelist's well-etched modern American women and sharp delineations of clashing cultural attitudes provide a humming, engaging heart for a film that easily could have atrophied into an arch comedy-of-mannerisms …‘Le Divorce's’ real strength rests in the expressive moments between the sisters. Hudson and Watts work up a believably quirky and natural affection…For a film that thinks it's about the gaps between nationalities, families and spouses, this is a darn fine ode to loving the person you grew up with." --Bob Strauss, L.A. Daily News

"Isabel is played by Kate Hudson, who usually specializes in chirpy irritation, but is unindictable here -- mainly because director Ivory reduces everyone to caricature…the script by Ivory and Jhabvala has removed all sense of nuance, which was what the original story was all about -- language, manners and the subtle degrees of attitude that mark one as French or American…In its reliance on distracting, well-known faces, ‘Le Divorce’ feels more like late Woody Allen, where celebrated actors are scattered like sprigs of parsley, in order to give an insufficient dish some breadth. All it does, in the end, is intensify your yen for something solid." --John Anderson, Newsday

"After a series of period pieces based upon literary works – ‘A Room With a View,’ ‘Maurice’ and ‘Howard's End’ among them -- Ivory has made a movie that feels closer to his 1989 New York art world stinker, ‘Slaves of New York’… ‘Le Divorce" also drags with its au courant onslaught of style over story…character motivations are glossed over in favor of a stylistic superficial detail, undercutting Watts' and Hudson's efforts to inject depth into their rather naive sisters." --Paula Nechak, Seattle Post-Intelligencer

"…retains much of the bite and humor of Diane Johnson’s wondrously prophetic 1997 novel, which explores the various ways the French and the Americans rub each other the wrong way without much trying…The film’s greatest achievement is in keeping a dizzying variety of characters at odds with each other without any breach of good manners, and without descending to facile stereotypes and caricatures… --Andrew Sarris, The New York Observer

"‘Le Divorce’ is entertaining as an adult romantic comedy, but then it switches gears to become a silly suspense thriller when the cuckolded Tellman goes ballistic. It is so cliche to end this cosmopolitan tale of families attempting to cross a cultural divide in the cheap, derivative and violent manner of a bad American action flick. The story accuses the French of obsessing over cheese while more important matters loom. But of more concern is our American obsession with cheesy violence." --Claudia Puig, USA Today

"‘Le Divorce’ — in substance if not in style — is entirely consistent with the Merchant-Ivory mission to explore the clash between old and new worlds, between tenaciously held tradition and the careless freedoms of modernity…as so often happens in a Merchant-Ivory movie, the big picture gets lost in the furnishings. One walks away from ‘Le Divorce’ remembering not so much Isabel in her hard-won wisdom and independence as the image of a Kelly bag floating over the rooftops of Paris in goofy, if irrelevant, homage to the beloved French children’s movie ‘The Red Balloon.’" --Ella Taylor, LA Weekly

"In this episodic film with a soupcon of Sex and the City, cross-cultural misunderstanding, not character, is the point. Watts and Hudson are lovely, their golden tresses haloing the film in a L'Oreal nimbus. But they never emerge, as do Caron and Lhermitte, with contours of personality both velvety and sharp…As with its source material, in its last act ‘Le Divorce’ fitfully veers into melodrama, a development that Ivory treats with admirable discretion. In his hands the eternal meeting of American innocence and European experience is not a bone-crushing collision but a gentle collusion. Vive la diffrence!" --Carrie Rickey, Philadelphia Inquirer

"‘Le Divorce’ somehow lacks lightness and weight. This is a movie that tries to work a bloody suicide attempt and a murder into a comedy of manners, with almost everything registering in the same narrow spectrum of inconsequence…As often happens in film adaptations of novels, we're introduced to many side characters who add texture at the expense of focus…‘Le Divorce’ suffers from irreconcilable differences." --Mark Caro, Chicago Tribune