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De-Lovely 2004

PG-13 CC

From Paris to Venice to Broadway to Hollywood, the lives of Cole (Kline) and Linda (Ashley Judd) Porter were never less than glamorous and wildly unconventional.

Starring:
Kevin Kline, Ashley Judd
Runtime:
2 hours, 5 minutes

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Product Details

Genres Drama, Music, Musical
Director Irwin Winkler
Starring Kevin Kline, Ashley Judd
Supporting actors Jonathan Pryce, Kevin McNally, Sandra Nelson, Allan Corduner, Peter Polycarpou, Keith Allen, James Wilby, Kevin McKidd, Richard Dillane, Edward Baker-Duly, Angie Hill, Harry Ditson, Tayler Hamilton, Lexie Peel, Greg Sheffield, Peter Jessop, Jeff Harding, Susannah Fellows
Studio MGM
MPAA rating PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned)
Captions and subtitles English Details
Purchase rights Stream instantly Details
Format Amazon Video (streaming online video)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Gary F. Taylor HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 2, 2006
Format: DVD
Cole Porter, legendary composer and lyricist, met and married American divorcee Linda in Paris. The marriage was unexpected: where Porter was clearly homosexual, Linda was uninterested in physical intimacy. Even so, those who knew them describe them as deeply in love with each other on a purely emotional level. Throughout their long marriage, Porter repeatedly engaged in shallow liaisons with various men while Linda looked the other way--at least as long as Porter was reasonably discreet.

Porter's sense of discretion was not always sufficent for Linda, who left him several times and threatened divorce on at least one occasion. It was, however, enough "to get by" with the vast public, which saw only the glamour of their lives and the great brilliance of Porter's talents. The result was a 1946 film biography that put many of Porter's greatest songs before the camera while casting handsome Cary Grant as the waspish Porter and lovely Alexis Smith as the somewhat icy Linda--a movie that went over well with audiences but which actually had very little basis in reality.

The 2004 DE-LOVELY takes a considerably different tack. It would be hard to say that the film "tells all"--but it tells enough and it offers a host of high-art concepts and truly fine performances in the process. It debuted with tremendous fanfare and then, amazingly, seemed to vanish from the screen within a single night. While most critics liked the film, the public did not, and they were pretty emphatic about it.
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What we have here is a film based on but not limited to the adult life of Cole Porter. How to describe it? It's not a biopic nor is it a musical comedy. It resembles All That Jazz (1979) and Evita (1996) when combining fact with contrivance within a series of flashbacks to create dramatic impact. Various devices (e.g. hallucination and reminiscence) enable us to explore various components of Porter's life as well as the various relationships which he developed over a period of several decades. Kevin Kline brilliantly portrays Porter, with an able supporting cast headed by Ashley Judd (Linda Thomas Cole), Jonathan Pryce (Gabe), Kevin McNally (Gerald Murphy), Sandra Nelson (Sara Murphy), and Alan Corduner (Monty Woolley). I guess this could be called a Film Noir/Musical Review. Defining moments in Porter's adult life are coordinated with his greatest Broadway musicals which include Gay Divorcee, Anything Goes, and Kiss Me Kate, later adapted to the screen. As for his most popular songs, several of their titles suggest double meanings when we take into account Porter's bi-sexual love life. For example, "Let's Do It," "I've Got You Under My Skin," "You Do Something to Me," and "Anything Goes." Irwin Winkler pulls all of this together fairly well. Yes, the plot has its lumpy moments and, yes, the make-up isn't always effective (late in life, Kline's Porter resembles Charles Foster Kane) but the musical performances are highly entertaining and I especially appreciate the fact that Kline sings as ineptly as Porter did. I much prefer this version to Night and Day (1946) which Porter enjoyed because he was played by Cary Grant. On balance, De-Lovely is an enjoyable film and I resist the temptation to offer a pun on its title when selecting a title of my own for these brief remarks.
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Format: DVD
"When they begin the beguine

It brings back the sound of music so tender,

It brings back a night of tropical splendor,

It brings back a memory ever green."

When "De-Lovely" begins it is October 15, 1964 and Cole Porter (Kevin Kline) is about to die. This requires his life to flash before his eyes, but since we are talking Cole Porter this means there are all sorts of creative decisions involved in this final production. The conceit of the film is that Porter is sitting in the first theater that he visited while growing in Peru, Indiana, with "Gabe" (Jonathan Pryce) at his side. The result is not a musical but rather a musical biography, which is why we do not go back to Porter's childhood but rather to the moment that the gay songwriter met the love of his life, the divorcee Linda Lee (Ashley Judd), who would become his wife.

"And that's why birds do it, bees do it

Even educated fleas do it

Let's do it, let's fall in love."

Cole and Linda marry, equally aware of the strengths as well as the weaknesses of their relationship. Linda was more than a front of respectability for Cole's homosexuality; she was his muse. "De-Lovely" abandons the traditions of a bio-pic in terms of places and dates to focus more on the songs Cole Porter wrote. Kevin Kline is a piano player, and he uses this talent to great affect in the film. Cole is often sitting at the piano composing the music of his life and it compels us to listen again to the familiar lyrics, but this time in the context of his life. The recurring thought is not that he is writing all of these songs to reflect himself, but that there are times when the songs are clearly for her.
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