Straight-laced Rose breaks off relations with her party girl sister, Maggie, over an indiscretion involving Rose's boyfriend. The chilly atmosphere is broken with the arrival of Ella, the grandmother neither sister knew existed.
"En relisant ta lettre"
Written by Serge Gainsbourg
Performed by Serge Gainsbourg
(c) Warner Chappell Music France
(p) 1961 Mercury (France)
With the permission of Universal Music Projets Spéciaux France See more »
Have not read the novel, but the movie itself is slush (not having read the novel I can't say whether to blame the author).
Supposedly, the story explores the values gulf between America and France, with sex the American taboo and money the French taboo. Sadly, the greatest taboo in this movie is common sense, which seems trapped at the midpoint between the two, in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, several miles beneath the surface at the base of the mid-Atlantic rift.
Every time we think something that makes less sense couldn't happen, it does. Characters act stupidly or self-destructively, doing the kind of nasty or narcissistic things that would make them the villain of most any other putative comedy of manners, only to have their clueless behavior transcended (to the downside) in the very next scene.
The only real surprise in the film is that it was made by the same folks who gave us "A Room With A View" and its distinguished successors. Here, that body of work culminates in an anticlimactic thud, as if obscurity were the thing the production team had been seeking to perfect. (Thank goodness they have another film coming out soon.) Rather than engaging the audience, "Le Divorce" is so absurd that about halfway through, it joins the group of films that are so bad you watch to the end just to hoot at the screen.
Our antipathy to the characters is particularly amazing because there is not a bad performance. Most of the excellent cast is quite good, and I was very happy to see Leslie Caron looking so beautiful and healthy. One gets the feeling the actors chose the project because it was a Merchant Ivory film. The only betrayal we end up caring about is that their faith led them here.
The film looks great, yet the script makes us groan. Other than the sister in law and the young daughter of the divorce of the title, the characters are archetypes. The most distinctive personality belongs to a handbag, and the rest of them become so annoying they seem to deserve what they get. The genuine tragedies -- we see them coming two miles away, not just one -- don't carry much impact because these so clearly aren't real people.
"Le Divorce" was meant to be funny, but it plays out as a 90-minute Seinfeld stripped of comedy or plot. The only laughs come from the predictability and unbelievability of events, and the degree to which we don't care about anyone they happen to. Merchant Ivory have, and will, do a lot better than this.
37 of 64 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?