Top critical review
21 people found this helpful
on January 31, 2005
It's sad to see Hollywood get it so wrong. Of course, it isn't new for Hollywood to get it wrong--but the people involved in this film should know better-especially Kline.
While some moments are indeed culled from reality (Cole Porter did lose the use of both his legs in a riding accident later in life and did have to be carried into the opening night of his musical KISS ME KATE on Broadway), some of the "liberties" Irwin Winkler and the screenwriter take with the facts are rather astonishing.
Like another reviewer has mentioned, Cole Porter led a fantastic, fun-filled social life, surrounded by wonderful personalities like Elsa Maxwell (where was she in the film?), Monty Wooley (represented, but poorly), the African-American entertainer Bricktop, Noel Coward, and the Windsors. Of course his parties would have been something else! But if you went by this film, you'd think he had few friends and nobody to count on but his wife Linda.
Ashley Judd is completely miscast as the wealthy divorcee who connects with Porter. She has no chemistry with Kline or anyone else in the film, and is too young for the part.
Kline himself is too old to play the young Porter and the ridiculously bad make-up used to make him the "old Porter" makes this viewer wish they had cast 2 actors.
Kline certainly has the right energy and vivacity to play a convincing Porter, but he needs a good script and a clever director and talented co-stars..all of which he was lacking in this sad excuse for a biopic.
Don't even get me started on the simply murderous versions of some of Porter's most wonderful songs, massacred by the modernized orchestrations and deliveries of the likes of Sheryl Crow (!!! Her take on "Begin the Beguine" is the worst cover of a Porter song I've ever heard--it doesn't even sound like the same song!), Elvis Costello, and other minor artists that don't deserve the few seconds given to them on screen.
Such a wasted opportunity to make a wonderful story for the screen about one of our greatest composers. Sad on all accounts.
If you want a better view of Porter's life and his music, I recommend the musical RED, HOT & COLE, a wonderful show that was written in the late 70s and was produced in LA and Richmond (never got to Broadway), but that uses Porters songs and the setting of several of his "swell parties", to tell his life story much more interestingly than this film could ever hope to do.