De-Lovely
United American // PG-13 // July 2, 2004
Review by Kim Morgan | posted July 9, 2004
M O V I E
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Skip It
E - M A I L
this review to a friend
R E V I E W S
Graphical Version
Bob Fosse would not be amused. Come to think of it, neither would Charles Dickens. When De-Lovely, director Irwin Winkler's bathetic ode to that great musical genius Cole Porter opens, an elderly Porter (Kevin Kline) is rolled out by a demanding angel named Gabe (Jonathan Pryce) and given the "This Is Your Life" treatment. Glumly aping Fosse's beautifully and bizarrely rendered death throttle in All That Jazz with a ridiculous nod to A Christmas Carol, Gabe stage-directs Cole's life with key members walking out on stage and re-enacting what should be, a fascinating existence. No such luck.

Covering, mainly, his sexless marriage (again, sexed-up Fosse would not be amused) to the gorgeous socialite Linda Lee Thomas (Ashley Judd), this biopic loses the fun Porter so desired in life and instead, focuses on the frustrating--how DE-lightful. For sure, Porter's life wasn't one constant party. He was gay, though for the most part openly and with jolly, which caused friction in a complicated marriage where Linda was NOT just a beard, but a true companion and a genuine love. He was also, nearly paralyzed after being thrown from a horse, but nursed by the ever patient Linda (later Cole would lose his leg).

These milestones bookend a movie that offers little else aside from a terrific performance by Kline (who also sings) and embarrassing, anachronistic turns by modern musicians doing Cole as if appearing on that dreadful TV show American Dreams. We've got Elvis Costello warbling through "Let's Misbehave," Sheryl Crow desecrating "Begin the Beguine" and Alanis Morissette eradicating any of the eroticism of "Let's Do It, Let's Fall in Love." Whoever thought SHE would be the appropriate choice to not only sing, but DANCE, whilst intoning "birds do it, bees do it" was clearly, high—maybe on what Porter got "no kick from"—cocaine. Oddly (but then, really, not surprising when you think about it) it's British pop superstar Robbie Williams who sings Porter best when raunching through "It's De-Lovely." He's the only one who TRULY appears to be enjoying himself and, even better, in an impish pan-sexual way Porter would appreciate.

If you're a Porter fan, you'll file through all the movie versions of songs you love—Fred Astaire's "Night and Day" (from The Gay Divorcee), Ann Miller's "Too Darn Hot" (from Kiss Me Kate), Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby's "Well, Did you Evah?" (from High Society), just to name a few—wishing you were watching those. And though Porter aficionados will appreciate the film's greatest contribution—Cole Porter's own little voice singing "You're the Top"—you still have to wait for the end credits to enjoy this delicacy. And by then, it's just too darn…long.

Read More Kim Morgan at her blog Sunset Gun


Copyright 2014 Kleinman.com Inc. All Rights Reserved. Legal Info, Privacy Policy DVDTalk.com is a Trademark of Kleinman.com Inc.