"You shouldn't accept expensive gifts from a man."
Le Divorce is an interesting look at French and American views on love and marriage. Though not quite what I had expected, or even hoped the movie would be, it was still quite entertaining—at least for the two hours it took me to watch it.
Facts of the Case
Isabel Walker (Kate Hudson, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days) arrives in Paris to visit her pregnant sister, Roxy (Naomi Watts, Mullholland Drive), whose French husband has left her for an affair with another woman. The subsequent divorce proceedings target a potentially valuable painting which had been owned by the Walkers, and which the husband's family wants to claim for their own. The politicking gets complicated once Isabel enters an affair with Edgar (Thierry Lhermitte, Strange Gardens), one of Roxy's in-laws.
Le Divorce is a romantic comedy in the traditional sense, in that it is a story about relationships and has a happy (well, at least not tragic) ending. I am still trying to decide whether or not I liked it. I remember when it was released in the theaters, I had thought it looked interesting but never got around to seeing it. From what I remember of the trailer, the movie appeared to be much funnier then it actually was. It did smile at some points, but nothing was "laugh out loud" funny. The film didn't seem to have any remotely earth-shattering theme to it, except for the difficulty surrounding divorce, especially when there's a culture clash. By watching the film, you will have a new appreciation for American culture and the rights that American women have—rights not necessarily found in other countries. The one impression I walked away with is that the movie missed the mark. It set out to accomplish something more than it was capable of.
To be honest, I actually liked Kate Hudson in this role. She seemed kind of ditzy in How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days and I didn't think the role of Emma/Ylva/Anna/Eldora in Alex &38 Emma was incredibly flattering. However, Isabel Walker was much more appealing. Even though Isabel appeared somewhat flaky in the onset, I felt her character blossomed throughout, enhanced by the narration and her own self-exploration. While the storyline seemed to focus primarily on Kate Hudson—she had more screen time then Naomi Watts—the plot was based around her sister's ensuing divorce. Rather a poor way to tell the story. Naomi Watts was a good choice for Roxeanne, yet I think the film could have benefited immensely by using her as more of a central character. There was nowhere near as much character growth as I would liked to have seen in a film such as this. The blossoming love between Roxy and her attorney could have been a nice addition to the plot, especially since she was morally opposed to divorce. The psychological juxtaposition this dilemma posed would have been a nice exploration on the deeper meanings of love and marriage.
The film has an excellent supporting cast including Sam Waterston (Law and Order), Stockard Channing (Grease), and Glenn Close (Things You Can Tell Just By Looking At Her). I will always adore just about any performance by Glenn Close and the character of Olivia Pace is no exception. As Isabel tells the story, Olivia seems to be a voice of reason. She rationalizes French culture concerning relationships and appears to be one facet of Isabel's conscience.
Presented in 2.40:1 anamorphic widescreen, the transfer was excellent, as is the case for most recent movies, but the aspect ratio was rather odd. On a standard television, the picture appeared much smaller then it might have on a widescreen TV. As such, there was really no optimal way to watch the DVD on anything but a 16:9 TV. To make matters worse, on the alternate full frame version, I noticed that several aspects of some important scenes (like a person participating in the dialogue) were cut off. This didn't seem to be the case for the widescreen version and proved to be rather annoying. The sound quality of was excellent and I had absolutely no problems whatsoever discerning any of the dialogue throughout the film. The soundtrack was a nice addition to the atmosphere, with lots of classy "old-world-esque" tunes composed by Richard Robbins (a British composer also responsible for Jefferson in Paris).
The DVD contained no bonus features. This is a shame since there were several that would have been extremely easy to include: the trailer, a commentary track, deleted scenes, or even an interview with the original author of the book. Fox is sternly reminded that we like DVDs for their ability to put the nice goodies we call "extras" on them. For what they included, I probably could have enjoyed it just as much on VHS.
Unless you are a fan of the novel the film is based upon, I would recommend this one as a rental. It's one of those movies you will probably only watch once, or at least not often enough to make it worth the $20 you would spend to purchase he DVD.
Fox is pronounced guilty as charged for forgetting to include something we like to call "extras." All involved with the film itself though are begrudgingly cleared.
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