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Review: De-Lovely (2004)

De-Lovely (2004)

Directed by: Irwin Winkler

Premise: A biopic of Broadway composer Cole Porter (Kevin Kline). The film charts his climb to fame and his up and down relationship with his wife Linda (Ashley Judd).

What Works: The film is an enormous success. Film musicals are often problematic because they try to replicate the stage experience on celluloid and that does not usually work. De-Lovely is a musical that is made with the strengths of cinema in mind. The performances in the film are very good. Kline captures the essence of Porter very well. The film deals with his bisexuality very openly but in a way that focuses it; rarely has a character’s sex life been portrayed so well, with regard for both taste and honesty. In this character sketch sexuality is very important but the film uses it as a link to other story elements. 

What Doesn’t: The film is hard to get into at first because it is told from the point of view of Porter watching it as a stage production where he is both a participant and a spectator. This clears up as the film goes on and becomes more linear.

Bottom Line: De-Lovely is a fusion of the over the top look of Moulin Rouge with the stage-look of a traditional film musical. This film is on its way to the year’s top ten lists. Kline, Judd, and Winkler deserve high praise for there work here. Fans of musicals will want to check this out but there is something for everyone else as well.

Episode: #18 (September 12, 2004)