Review by: Jack Foley | Rating:
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Audio commentary by director Peyton
Reed; Music video 'Heres To Love'; 5 deleted scenes; 4 featurettes:
'Guess my Name' featuring celebrity mystery guest Barbara Novak,
Blooper Reel, HBO Special, Down with Love testimonial; 6 documentaries:
On Location With Down with Love, Creating The World Of Down with
Love, The Costumes Of Down with Love, The Swingin Sounds
Of Down with Love, Down with Love Up with Tony Randall, Down with
Love Split Decisions; Hair and wardrobe tests; Music promo
Renée Zellweger and Ewan McGregor pay homage to the romantic
comedies of Doris Day and Rick Hudson in a visually sumptuous,
but curiously vacant battle of the sexes, which dazzles and disappoints
in equal measure.
Down With Love is a curious movie, which works on so many levels
without ever really engaging emotionally, rendering it something
of a missed opportunity. It is, without doubt, a triumph of style
over substance, boosted by the charisma of its stars.
Set in 1960s New York, the plot concerns Zellwegers feminist
writer, Barbara Novak, just as she has arrives in the Big Apple,
having penned Down With Love, a book denouncing romance in favour
of career goals, which empowers women across the globe.
Initially written off as an elderly spinster by McGregors
playboy journalist, Catcher Block, the debonair columnist then
finds himself exposed as the womaniser he is by the liberated
Novak - prompting him to assume a different identity and expose
the down with love girl for the hopeless romantic
he believes she really is.
The ensuing battle of wits is offset against his shy best friends
attempts to woo and win Novaks editor, in what provides
a truly hilarious sub-plot.
Rammed with double entendres and a nice line in visual humour,
Down With Love begins as a sparkling, even spiky, little movie,
before losing its fizz somewhere along the way to its feelgood
In the principal roles, McGregor and Zellweger look great, despite
never really striking the right sort of sparks off each other,
partly because they seem sidetracked with trying to nail down
someone elses performance.
Both seem to invest so much time in getting their appearance
and swaggers correct (in line with the Day/Hudson
magic of old) that they almost seem to forget to fall in love
- all of which leaves the audience gob-smacked for all the wrong
The movie looks stunning, and some of the deliberately exaggerated
expressions and poses adopted by the principals are a delight.
Zellweger, especially, could have come from a bygone era, recapturing
the spirit of Day (and even Monroe) with effortless ease.
The support cast, too, seem to be having fun, with Frasiers
David Hyde Pierce, especially, stealing every scene that hes
in, and making audiences pine for him whenever he is not around.
Its just that by the time the credits roll (and the leads
indulge in a well-observed musical number), youll probably
be scratching your head in bewilderment, wondering why there is
such a soppy grin on your face, when you havent really been
bothered about whats going on.
Perhaps its because they feel so caricatured and exaggerated,
that they fail to connect on a human level.
But this shouldnt detract from an otherwise lively romp
through cinematic nostalgia which is certain to be unlike any
other rom-com youve seen see this year. It may ultimately
be a failure, but its a glorious one, nonetheless.