2003 - PG-13 - 117 Mins.
|Director: James Ivory
|Producer: Ismail Merchant
|Written By: James Ivory, Diane Johnson, Ruth Prawer Jhabvala
|Starring: Naomi Watts, Kate Hudson, Stockard Channing, Sam Waterston, Glenn Close
|Review by: Joe Rickey
Merchant/Ivory films have all been light comedy retellings of classic tales of whimsy such as The Remains of the Day and The Importance of Being Earnest. Those films found it fit to find humor in inherently comical situations such as mistaken identities and the like. Their prior films have been solid entertainment that has resulted in rather limited wide appeal and an even more limited box office gross. Their latest offering is titled Le Divorce and hopes to be more successful in the market by way of cast featuring Kate Hudson and Naomi Watts as the leads. A solid supporting cast that includes Stockard Channing, Glenn Close, Bebe Neuwirth, and Sam Waterston joins them.
Le Divorce tells the story of a large cast of characters who are in Paris for divorce proceedings. The film attempts to weave multiple subplots into that broad setup. For the most part, the film is a success. The writing is oftentimes humorous as the film makes light of the fact that a few of the characters struggle with the French language by having them say some comment that has little bearing on what someone just said to them. This leads to many laugh out loud moments such as when Hudson’s character is shopping. It is ultimately the standout performances by Watts and Hudson, which make the film rather easily recommended. They both have the skill to pull off both the light comedy and the few moments of serious material without a hitch. With lesser actors in their place, the film would be an unmitigated disaster. Of course, the supporting cast follows their lead and do well with what screen time they are given.
The screen time (or lack thereof) given to all of the subplots is the one large problem, which makes the film less of a knockout success. There simply is too much going on in the film for all of the characters to have fleshed-out personalities. Therefore, the characters you know little about are characters that you are unable to maintain interest in when they are onscreen. The film, in the end, would have been better off cutting out some of the characters and giving over the bulk of screen time to a few better-developed characters.
Overall though, Le Divorce is a mostly successful film because of the talents of a cast that is hard to beat when it comes to a film that mixes comedy with drama for an entertaining viewing experience.