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De-lovely (2004)

Shes De Lovely

A love that would never die and music that would live forever.

Directed by:

Irwin Winkler

Rating: 3/10

Running Time: 125 minutes

US Certificate: PG-13 UK Certificate: PG

On DVD

Country: United States, United Kingdom

In a year that saw cinema-goers spoiled for choice in the big-name biopic department, ‘De-Lovely’ never stood a chance. While those involved in Ray, Kinsey, Beyond the Sea and The Aviator received blanket media coverage, critical plaudits and some none-too-shabby pay checks, ‘De-Lovely’ passed by almost unnoticed.

Why? Well, it could be the lack of genuine star quality in the cast line-up (Kevin Kline and Ashley Judd might be household names, but they can’t hold a torch to Jamie Foxx, Liam Neeson, Kevin Spacey or Leonardo DiCaprio in the bankability stakes). Then again, it might be because the movie-makers over-estimated potential public interest in their subject, renowned songwriter Cole Porter. Personally though, I like to think it’s quite simply because the film just isn’t any good.

Directed by Irwin Winkler (a man who’s much better known for his work as a producer) and written by Jay Cocks (hee-hee!), ‘De-Lovely’ is a long, drawn-out and deeply-arduous re-enactment of Porter’s troubled life, with Kline in the lead role. He’s portrayed as an upbeat, charming and likable fellow, whose wife Linda (Judd) only seemed to be sporadically bothered by the fact that he was as gay as a window. Of course, as time goes on, the pair’s problems grow increasingly serious (a situation not helped when Cole is permanently crippled after a horse lies on top of him), and it becomes harder and harder for them to recapture the carefree chirpiness of their younger boy-kissing days (that, of course, goes for both of them).

The whole thing is so drab, so repetitive and so completely unengaging that I ended up actually wishing the poor geezer would hurry up and snuff it so that the end credits could finally roll. I cannot recall Kline ever looking quite so disinterested through the entire duration of a movie, and Judd is so false and inanimate that I felt like reaching through the screen and giving her a good shake, just to make sure she hadn’t replaced herself with a cardboard cut-out and sneaked off for a quick ciggy break. I genuinely struggle to think of any other actress of her generation who has quite so little screen presence.

Of course, there’s always the music. “Surely they can’t have messed that part up?” I hear you ask. After all, if songs as well-known and loved as ‘Anything Goes’, ‘Let’s Do It, Let’s Fall in Love’ and ‘It’s De-Lovely’ don’t represent safe territory for any half-decent film-maker, then what does? Unfortunately, even that aspect of things is spoiled, thanks to the conveyor-belt of fluctuatingly-famous names dragged out to perform hatchet-jobs on the man’s work. With Elvis Costello, Sheryl Crow, Alanis Morisette, Natalie Cole and even Robbie sodding Williams all appearing on-stage at one point or another, it feels more like a producer’s exercise in name-dropping than any genuine attempt to pay tribute to one of America’s song-writing legends.

It's Got: Even Mick Hucknall somehow managing to get his beady orange face into the proceedings.

It Needs: Williams to shut it.

DVD Extras This double-disc snoozer features two ‘Making Of’ documentaries, two ‘Anatomy of a Scene’ featurettes, nine deleted scenes, a TV spot for the soundtrack, a trailer, and an audio commentary from Kline, Winkler and Cocks (whose names, when put together, are almost an anagram of a German insult – but not quite). Edition reviewed De-Lovely [2004] also available from Amazon.com on DVD and Soundtrack CD. DVD Extras Rating: 6/10

Alternatives:

All That Jazz, Beyond the Sea

Summary

It’s de-rubbish.

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