4.9/10
10,443
156 user 89 critic

Le divorce (2003)

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French vs. American social customs and behaviors are observed in a story about an American visiting her Frenchman-wed sister in Paris.

Director:

James Ivory

Writers:

Diane Johnson (novel), Ruth Prawer Jhabvala (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
2 wins. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Kate Hudson ... Isabel Walker
Jean-Marie Lhomme Jean-Marie Lhomme ... Immigration Officer
Naomi Watts ... Roxeanne de Persand
Esmée Buchet-Deàk Esmée Buchet-Deàk ... Gennie de Persand
Jean-Jacques Pivert Jean-Jacques Pivert ... Talkative Shopkeeper
Melvil Poupaud ... Charles-Henri de Persand
Catherine Samie ... Madame Florian
Samuel Labarthe ... Antoine de Persand
Leslie Caron ... Suzanne de Persand
Thierry Lhermitte ... Edgar Cosset
Nathalie Richard ... Charlotte de Persand
Samuel Gruen Samuel Gruen ... de Persand Child
Peter Wyckoff Peter Wyckoff ... de Persand Child
Sandrel Lonnoy Sandrel Lonnoy ... Maid
Glenn Close ... Olivia Pace
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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 »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | French

Release Date:

29 August 2003 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Divorcio a la francesa See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$516,834, 10 August 2003, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$9,074,550, 26 October 2003
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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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

[after seeing Isabel's new look at the airport]
Roger Walker: She looks like something out of "Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!".
See more »

Connections

Features The Simpsons (1989) See more »

Soundtracks

Mazurka No.16, Opus 24 # 3
Frédéric Chopin
(incorrectly credited as 'Impromptu, Opus 24 # 3')
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Better than the general opinion allows
29 October 2008 | by Thomas-White2See all my reviews

I keep trying to figure out why this movie is rated so low. I thought it was very good, and that was before I started reading the book -- well more than halfway through, I think it's a faithful adaptation that delivers the storyline and the theme of the novel very well. I tend now to read the novel a movie is based on after I've seen the film, since my experience has taught me that doing the reverse always leads to disappointment in the movie. This was not an error with this title. I think all the casting, all the acting, and especially the direction, were well done.

It seems to me that somehow viewers were expecting too much from the movie. My philosophy is that expectations are arranged disappointments, and I try not to expect anything going in. I do admit that I had some doubts when it seemed that Merchant-Ivory were doing what looked like a light comedy, but there is much more to the book and film than that, first of all, and secondly, why should accomplished filmmakers not move around the genres? Look at Kubrick and The Archers, just to name two, who did so and did it successfully. I wonder how many people went in expecting "Howards End" and thus were disappointed, not in the film but by their own expectations. It's not fair to the filmmakers. Expecting "Le Divorce" to be on par with "Howards End" was like expecting "Howards End" to have the same effect as "Shakespeare Wallah" -- two completely different experiences. It's entirely possible, in fact, that Merchant-Ivory might not have done as good a job on "Le Divorce" had they not made "Howards End" first. It's a matter of process. My point being, that each film must be judged on its own merits.

I've read a couple of comments and message board posts that complain about how the movie makes French people look -- arrogant, garrulous, etc. I think that's overstating a generalization. The movie makes THESE PARTICULAR French people look arrogant and garrulous, because they are -- and devious and self-centered and boorish. But to leap to the conclusion that the movie is making a statement about all French people is patently ridiculous. "The views expressed by the characters in this movie are entirely their own".

On the other hand, one has to remember that Diane Johnson, who wrote the book and a number of books about the culture since, spends half her time in France. She does't take her subjects lightly; she's an intelligent, thoughtful, and though-provoking writer, and I would urge the people who find the movie too subjective to go to its source and read the book. They will find that the book is written from the point of view of one person, and is about the relations between two families -- not two complete cultures. Just because people say something about a culture does't make it true. Perception itself is subjective. In the book (I can't recall if this occurs in the film, I'll have to see it again) Uncle Edgar, perhaps the most sensible character, himself speaks those words that send a shiver of annoyance up my spine: "You Americans. You think..." As if we all think the same thing (and we all know THAT isn't true!). It shows that subjectivity is a common human trait, that we look at the world with our own particular set of blinders, filter our thought through our cultural stance, although I think that perhaps French thought is more synthesized and common than American thought which is, by nature of the population, more diverse.

In the end I think that the book and the film are VERY objective, and let us look at our own judgmental selves and see how the judgmental and subjective nature of our thought and attitude can be damaging and inhibiting. I think that's the theme, and it comes across very well.


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