Inspecting a magical biographical stage musical, composer Cole Porter reviews his life and career with his wife, Linda.Inspecting a magical biographical stage musical, composer Cole Porter reviews his life and career with his wife, Linda.Inspecting a magical biographical stage musical, composer Cole Porter reviews his life and career with his wife, Linda.
Serving as a framework for the life events is a curious narration of sorts by an aged Porter and a mysterious host/angel (a nice theatrical turn by Jonathan Pryce). This bracketing narration is reminiscent of A Christmas Carol, and there are striking similarities to the classic All That Jazz in narrative and tone. The main story is told in a series of mini-vignettes; some scenes are almost too brief. Then there are the songs. It is truly phenomenal just how many wonderful Porter songs became standards. The recreations of many of his top hits are interspersed throughout the film and are performed often by top vocalists including some amusing cameos by Elvis Costello, Diana Krall, Alanis Morissette, and Natalie Cole. The songs serve to parallel and punctuate the life events throughout the story in much the same way paintings served as a co-narrative in Frieda.
Although production values are good for a period and location piece, it feels a little less grand in scope than it ought to be. Perhaps that works in the films favor as a more intimate story. Standout credit goes to the makeup effects especially showing the aging of Kevin Kline's character. The camera work and editing are imaginative especially in a series of circular tracking shots which seamlessly meld one timeframe with another. The music is timeless and enjoyable even when sung in pedestrian fashion by Kline. And regarding Kline, he deserves an Oscar nomination for a richly etched portrait of a tortured soul whose search for true love spanned his entire life. Perhaps in the hands of Bob Fosse or Baz Luhrmann, this could have really launched into a wildly imaginative send-off of a musical genius, but director Irwin Winkler (a respected producer turned director like Alan Pakula) has done Cole Porter proud.
- Aug 15, 2004