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De-Lovely (PG)



Review by: Emma Whitelaw | Rating: Two

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Audio commentary by director Irwin Winkler and Kevin Kline. Audio commentary by Irwin Winkler and writer Jay Cocks. 'Music of De-Lovely' featurette. 'Making of De-Lovely' featurette. Deleted scenes. 2 x Anatomy of a Scene.

IT'S a love story, it’s a musical, it’s a musical love story. The structure of Irwin Winkler’s De-Lovely is simply gorgeous.

Although the musical score may not be chronologically correct, it is the music that flows and defines this film, just as it once defined the life of Mr Cole Porter.

Kevin Kline opens the film at the piano made up as an elderly Cole Porter. He has reached the end of a very prosperous and decadent life and is called upon by the Arc Angel Gabriel (Jonathan Pryce) to sit with him through the metaphysical musical that is his life.

Gabriel assures Cole, 'your music will be our guide', as he opens the show with Anything Goes as sung by everyone that ever mattered to Cole.

The sequence is lightheartedly comical as Porter quips, 'you’ve got it all wrong, he never wore that'!

And so begins the wild and colourful journey of a man that changed the face of music and touched the hearts of many.

De-Lovely is a tuneful extravaganza of the man who once said: “I wanted every kind of love that was available." And he described these loves in his songs.

For Porter, love and music were closely intertwined. Be it the love of a woman or the love of a man.

Porter’s bisexuality, although often alluded to in the film, is not done with the distaste of speculation. Rather, it is presented through the juxtapositioning of the joy of Cole’s lovers and the disappointment of his wife.

Ashley Judd gives a stellar performance as Linda Lee Porter, the woman who gave everything, and more, for love.

The love she had for Cole was almost entirely unconditional - barring the one condition that his extra-marital dalliances be discreet and, more importantly, that they didn’t interfere with his work.

Judd portrays Linda so beautifully and gives the character so much charm and vulnerability that you feel that Linda truly was a saint. Her last scene, especially, is guaranteed to leave you misty eyed.

The film takes full advantage of Porter's abundant array of catchy, innuendo-tinged, autobiographical tunes.

So In Love, Anything Goes, Let's Misbehave, Night and Day and at least a dozen more are cleverly used to illustrate the rollercoaster-style love life of their author.

The various cameos throughout the film are a delight! Robbie Williams, of course, is his cocky self, and Alanis Morissette gives a superb performance of Lets Do It (Lets Fall In Love).

But the show stealer would have to be Sheryl Crow’s rendition of Begin The Beguine - she has an astonishingly sultry voice and jazz could easily be her next big thing.

The scenery is exquisite throughout the film. The journey takes us from Paris, to Venice, to New York and beyond. Each sequence is spectacular and it reinforces the glamour and romance experienced by the Porters.

The costuming is just as splendid! Designed exclusively by Armani, it encapsulates every bit the glamour of a bygone era.

And something must also be said about the age make-up. It is remarkably realistic and the aging of the characters is believably discreet.

There is already a buzz surrounding De-Lovely as one of the year's first Oscar contenders. But it is not without credibility.

This truly is a magnificent film that lives up to its very name!

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