The Roses, Barbara and Oliver, live happily as a married couple. Then she starts to wonder what life would be like without Oliver, and likes what she sees. Both want to stay in the house, and so they begin a campaign to force each other to leave. In the middle of the fighting is D'Amato, the divorce lawyer. He gets to see how far both will go to get rid of the other, and boy do they go far.. Written by
The movie was filmed during March, April, May and June 1989. See more »
During the dinner party scene, Oliver and Barbara are in the kitchen. After Oliver says, "You're not equipped to, honey", there is a close-up on Barbara in which a roll of paper towels is visible on the wall. Then there is a cut to a wider shot, and the length of towel hanging from the roll has changed. See more »
[Gavin is talking to a client]
You have some valid reasons for wanting a divorce.
[blows his nose with a handkerchief]
Excuse me. My sinuses are very sensitive to irritants.
[sprays nasal decongestant up his nostrils]
In the past five months, I think I've breathed freely with both sides working maybe a week total.
[pulls a cigarette out of a pack]
I gotta cut this out. It's gonna kill me.
[lights his cigarette]
I hadn't smoked for thirteen years. I kept the last cigarette from my last ...
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DeVito is a hit-and-miss director. He's turned out some very good films and some very bad ones. Sometimes his satire just falls short ("Death to Smoochy," for example); however, "War of the Roses" is his strongest directorial effort to date.
It's got everything - a clever script, great interaction between its two stars, exciting thrills, funny gags (without ever resorting to unnecessary crudity), and to top it all off, the direction is very effective - DeVito is heavily influenced by Hitchcock and that is very clear in the final sequence, which is reminiscent of "Vertigo" and "Rear Window." Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner play the Rose couple
two once-happily-married people who are now, after many years
together, bitter and at the end of their frustration. Deciding upon a divorce, they begin to split apart; however, negotiations regarding belongings begin to go awry as Oliver Rose (Douglas) demands more from his wife, claiming it's his money that purchased their enormous house and all objects inside.
DeVito turns in a performance as the narrator, and Oliver's lawyer, who tells us at the start we are about to watch a sad tale about divorce. By the time the film has ended we've seen events spiral totally out of control - beginning with absolute believability and ending in absolute absurdity.
That's the crucial part of all this. Black comedy relies on whether the dramatic arc of the content - the leap from reality to lunacy - can be believable. Many times in DeVito's film, it isn't. "Smoochy," for example, was clever satire at first, and fairly reminiscent of real-life people and events; then it turned into an over-the-top revenge rampage.
"War of the Roses" is more careful, and the arc is subtler. It's believable because the characters are given such room to grow and their conflict blossoms throughout the picture.
I'd classify "War of the Roses" as one of the funniest, cleverest and most underrated black comedies of the 1980s - it's one of my personal favorite movies and never fails to crack me up. A cult film? Maybe; but I think many more people would enjoy it if they gave it a chance.
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