Le Divorce
2 out of 5 stars
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
everything sounds sexier in french Merchant-Ivory take a stab at a contemporary romantic comedy with this offbeat ensemble film set in Paris. It's sunny and cute, utterly toothless, and all over the place tonally and thematically. Isabel (Hudson) travels to Paris to help her sister Roxy (Watts) through the last months of her pregnancy, but arrives just as Roxy's husband (Poupaud) walks out, leaving her alone with their young daughter. As Roxy sorts out the details of the divorce, Isabel settles into Paris life working for an American writer (Close) and having a fling with both the writer's assistant (Duris) and her ex-brother-in-law's handsome uncle (Lhermitte). Comedy and tragedy ensue as the girls' parents (Channing and Waterston) arrive and a couple of experts (Fry and Neuwirth) get all hot and bothered over a family heirloom painting of the patron saint of young girls.

The main problem with this film is the script; Ivory and Jhabvala seem unwilling to whittle down Diane Johnson's novel into a movie, so they over-stuff the film with so many subplots that nothing works at all. The film feels badly chopped--like a four-hour film cut down to two hours in the harshest way possible. We jump from scene to scene, skipping over vast chunks of time. Meanwhile, Watts delivers yet another startlingly honest and raw performance, while Hudson provides a solid if not terribly sympathetic counterpoint. The rest of the charming cast have very little screen time, and to be blunt, some of them should have been deleted altogether (Modine's silly subplot is irrelevant until a cheap plot turn at the bitter end). And the film tries to have it all ways at once--funny, romantic, thoughtful, sentimental and tragic. With a bit of magical realism thrown in for no reason. But when it's going so many different directions at once, there's no way it'll ever get anywhere meaningful. This is very annoying, because there's a well-made film in here somewhere.

cert 12 themes, language, innuendo 4.Jun.03

dir James Ivory
scr Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, James Ivory
with Kate Hudson, Naomi Watts, Glenn Close, Thierry Lhermitte, Stockard Channing, Sam Waterston, Melvil Poupaud, Romain Duris, Leslie Caron, Matthew Modine, Bebe Neuwirth, Stephen Fry
release US 8.Aug.03; UK 19.Sep.03
03/UK 1h57

Sisters in Paris. Hudson and Watts.

close channing waterston modine neuwirth fry
R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... everything sounds sexier in french "Two attractive actresses in starring roles in the same movie! Naomi Watts acts, Kate Hudson plays ... Kate Hudson." --Mike panick, Detroit 31.Jul.03
2003 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall