4.9/10
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157 user 88 critic

Le divorce (2003)

PG-13 | | Drama, Romance, Comedy | 29 August 2003 (USA)
French vs. American social customs and behaviors are observed in a story about an American visiting her Frenchman-wed sister in Paris.

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Writers:

(novel), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »

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2 wins. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Jean-Marie Lhomme ...
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Esmée Buchet-Deàk ...
Jean-Jacques Pivert ...
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Catherine Samie ...
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Samuel Gruen ...
Peter Wyckoff ...
Sandrel Lonnoy ...
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Storyline

The differences in legalities and cultural mores of French and Americans regarding sex, love, marriage, religion and family bonds are presented through the interactions of two families related by marriage. American Isabel Walker heads to Paris to visit her half-sister, poet Roxeanne de Persand, who is early in the pregnancy of her second child. Isabel arrives to find that Roxy's French husband, Charles-Henri de Persand, has just left Roxy, the sisters both eventually further learning that it is because he has fallen in love with another woman, who is herself married. Roxy and Charles-Henri deal with their break-up, which Roxy does not want but must face the legal consequences of, including determining the ownership of what may be a valuable French painting that has been casually in the Walker family for years, but which Roxy has had in her possession since she got married. Meanwhile, Isabel begins to explore all that France has to offer, which includes concurrently embarking on sexual... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

american | french | love | sex | france | See All (179) »

Taglines:

A comedy of manners...both good and bad. See more »

Genres:

Drama | Romance | Comedy

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for mature thematic elements and sexual content | See all certifications »

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Details

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Release Date:

29 August 2003 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Divorcio a la francesa  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$516,834 (USA) (10 August 2003)

Gross:

$9,074,550 (USA) (26 October 2003)
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2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film was originally set to star Winona Ryder and Natalie Portman, but both had to bow out before filming began. See more »

Goofs

When Isabel and Edgar have their last outing together, Isabel is clearly wearing red nail lacquer in the restaurant. When they say goodbye outside, her nails are no longer red. See more »

Quotes

Roxy: You shouldn't accept expensive gifts from a man.
Isabel: Why?
Roxy: Because it puts you in a position of having to do what he wants.
Isabel: I'd do it anyway.
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Connections

References Amélie (2001) See more »

Soundtracks

Pleurons plutôt de présentes douleurs
(from "Il faut rire et chanter: Dispute de bergers, H. 484")
Composed by Marc-Antoine Charpentier
Performed by Alan Ewing
Early music performed under the direction of David Bahanovich
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User Reviews

 
generalities, truth, and a few near-misses
11 August 2006 | by (France) – See all my reviews

After viewing the unfortunate "Golden Bowl" (also by James Ivory) the day before, an exposure to "Le Divorce" was certainly a refreshing sip of champagne. This may be the first James Ivory movie I've seen where I forgot to look at the sets (unlike Ivory's other French venture, "Jefferson in Paris"). This is mostly due to the depth of certain actors and the fact that this time Ivory decides to close in on them rather than frame them. When the book came out, as an American living in Paris for 30 years, I avoided reading another set of American observations on everything French that foreign residents here hate, and I can't say that the movie avoids the pitfalls of throwing around generalities. Yet this is kept to an astonishing minimum, perhaps because few of the main characters really consider themselves typical representatives of their native country. Instead of a plethora of reflections coming out of their mouths, "the French are like this, the Americans are like that," the viewer can actually draw his own conclusions about which country has the "nicest" people and the place of formality when it comes to private matters. After all, would the story have been that much different if it had dealt with class differences in New York City? The characters who do tend to generalize are perhaps the least involved in what is going on. They form the real "décor" of the film, rather than the wallpaper and polished furniture, although these elements certainly haven't been omitted.

I find it strange that the two most interesting actors are supposed to belong to the subplot, Kate Hudson and Thierry L'Hermitte. The latter is currently being wasted in his late middle age in French films, and, like Louis Jourdan in "Gigi," manages to bring a little subtle something extra to the most stereotyped part in the film. I'd like to see him extend what he has done here, if any producer or director can be bothered.

The film had such a short run in France that I missed seeing it in a movie theater, and it was dismissed by most French critics on its release like the way that some of the American characters are dismissed by their French counterparts in the film itself. It would be a shame to overlook this light but not lightweight effort, for it has a surprisingly natural charm and raises interesting questions about how much the culture that forms our conditioning influences our very humanity.


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