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Le Divorce /

Rated: PG-13

Starring: Kate Hudson, Naomi Watts, Jean-Marc Barr, Stockard Channing, Glenn Close
Directed by: James Ivory
Produced by: Ismail Merchant, Michael Schiffer
Written by: James Ivory,
Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, Diane Johnson
Distributor: Fox Searchlight Pictures


     Le Divorce is like a soap opera turned independent film. It’s packed with subplots and expects viewers to keep track of a whopping amount of characters, but is good and charming at heart, and we’re always captivated and intrigued by its every move. The cast is great, the mood is rich, and the concept is interesting—if only the execution had been better. James Ivory’s direction is miserable and the production by Ismail Merchant and Michael Schiffer is even worse. While these three have been behind some fabulous films in the past, their work on Le Divorce is clearly a misfire. And to top it all off, the quality of the writing is comparable to that of what first-year college film student could pen. Despite all of its flaws, this one still manages to be entertaining and engaging, for the better portion of its considerably lengthy duration, though.

     The greatest flaw? There is more plot in this movie than there ever will be in any Spielberg film. Half way through the screening, I was beginning to think that I would need a cheat-sheet to keep track of everything that was going on. Don’t misunderstand, Le Divorce isn’t complex, it’s just deceivingly and unnecessarily confusing. For some reason, recently, screenwriters of romantic comedies have felt the need to make the stories of their films more detailed. They leave their characters with cookie-cutter personalities, in attempts to make the tales that they embody extravagant and chocked full of non-stop commotion. And I thought these were only traits that comic-book movies possessed. Apparently, not anymore.

     The style is annoyingly had to warm up to, as well. In Le Divorce scenes either go on for an eternity or what seems like a mere ten seconds. While there is, undoubtedly, some great material, the horrendous scenes do overpower the exuberant and lively ones. This flick is all over the place, constantly changing in tone and pace. If the filmmakers had stuck with one subtle strategy in creating Le Divorce, it could’ve been a fabulously well-done piece. This is the kind of material that always fails, when the work of those behind the camera isn’t top-notch. While I’d hesitate to call this a failure, because it does exhibit a few great features, it’s definitely not technically sound. If you’re hungry for a beautifully assembled production, look elsewhere. This one is rough around the edges, to say the least.

     Kate Hudson and Naomi Watts are fabulous, though; the various performances in Le Divorce are some of the most astoundingly redeeming features in it. Even though the jokes in the script might appear blunt and unfunny on paper, the cast, driven by the two leads, manage to always keep this film charmingly comic. Watts plays Roxy. She’s at her best here, rather straight in her role, allowing all of the supporting characters use hers’ as a point of focus. Hudson is Isabelle, Roxy’s sister, both hysterical and delightful to watch. Now, more than ever, she has proven her tremendous acting skills to be consistent. Hudson has made three movies this year, and I’ve given all of them two-and-a-half buckets. They’re certainly not imperfect because of her, however. When she finds good movies to star in, she will be, in a sense, unbeatable.

     Le Divorce, albeit flawed and forgettable, is captivatingly light entertainment. It makes a nice matinee showing, and will be an even better choice, once available on video. There’s a lot to admire in this film, but there are definitely many better movies, currently in release. One’s initial reaction to the promotion says a lot, too. If you think you will like it, you will, and vice-versa. Another general rule of thumb: women, yes; men, no. Le Divorce is certainly worth trying, though—it’s undeniably likeable.

-Danny, Bucket Reviews

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