(2003) dir. Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
viewed: 10/27/03 at Loews Theatre at the Metreon, SF, CA
Intolerable Cruelty doesn’t look or feel like a Coen brothers’ film at first blush. The only point in the trailer in which you realize that it is their work is when their names appear on the screen as directors and co-writers. I must say that I don’t know definitively the background behind the film, but from what I have gleaned the film was something that they either inherited or re-inherited and turned it out as something with less characteristic mark than any of their other films.
By most standards, it’s a decent mainstream romantic comedy that takes its strengths and character more from comedies of a more classic Hollywood, like Howard Hawks or Ernst Lubitsch. Which, for today’s Hollywood, is a breath of less stale air, downright funny, and something so tasteful you could probably take your grandmother to see it.
By Coen brothers standards, it’s nothing too amazing. It lacks even their signiture camera style throughout most of it, and it has times when you could easily forget that it’s their film at all. It is, however, a more successful attempt to capture this classic Hollywood style of comedy than The Hudsucker Proxy (1994) which attempted to recreate the mood even further by steeping it in the period of those films, the 1940’s.
George Clooney and Catherine Zeta-Jones are actually a large portion of why this film works. They have that big screen appeal and charm that feels quite classic Hollywood.
This is a good film, though not a great one. Still better no doubt than any like type of romantic comedy that will get produced in Hollywood this year or next.