Review by: Jack Foley | Rating:
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: A Look Inside Intolerable Cruelty; The
Wardrobe; The Outtakes.
FROM its title alone, you might be able to guess that Intolerable
Cruelty is the type of romantic comedy that does things differently.
But, then again, have we come to expect anything less of the Coen
In a nutshell, it is about a man who wins in court, who falls
hopelessly in love with a woman who courts to win, and is as dark
and quirky as we have come to expect from the writer/directors,
whose hot streak shows no sign of cooling yet.
George Clooney stars as Miles Massey, a prominent LA divorce
attorney, who has an impeccable record when it comes to getting
divorce settlements - he never loses. Yet, in spite of the success,
he has reached a crossroads in his life, and is desperately seeking
Enter Marylin Rexroth (Catherine Zeta-Jones), the soon-to-be-ex-wife
of his client, Rex Rexroth (Edward Hernmann), a wealthy real estate
developer and habitual philanderer, who would appear to have her
man bang to rights, thanks to the tenacity of her private investigator
(who has nailed his arse in the act of infidelity).
When Miles puts one over the beautiful Marylin, and leaves her
with nothing, the scheming seductress aims to get even, but doesnt
count on the chemistry between the two, and quickly finds herself
falling in love, while trying to get rich from her next settlement.
The most brilliant thing about Intolerable Cruelty is the way
in which it never follows the path the viewer is expecting, while
also remaining delightfully barbed throughout.
As such, it consistently delights with its wicked deceptions
and offbeat sense of humour, while never forgetting to play up
the chemistry between its two main players.
Clooney and Zeta-Jones are red hot together, thriving on the
razor-sharp script, and striking some fairly incendiary sparks
off each other, with several of their scenes approaching the type
of well-lit cool usually reserved for Steven Soderbergh encounters.
Clooney, in particular, is an absolute riot as the debonair attorney,
displaying an excellent line in self-deprecating humour, as well
as some nice nods to the suave, sophisticated charm of Cary Grant.
His comic obsession with his teeth is a nice homage to his previous
Coens collaboration, O Brother, Where Art Thou?, while his
nicely-played partnership with emotional colleague, Wrigley (Paul
Adelstein), makes the screwball nature of the latter part of the
movie glide with almost effortless ease.
Zeta-Jones, too, is an alluring presence, absolutely stunning
in the way that classic screen sirens should be, while also exhibiting
that bitchy quality that makes her character so dangerously
And, as usual, the Coens keen attention to even the finest
details allows their support cast to shine, with the likes of
Geoffrey Rush and Billy Bob Thornton providing the showier of
the cameos; Richard Jenkins, proving a blast as an inept fellow
attorney, who clearly thinks he is cleverer than he is, and Irwin
Keyes, similarly hilarious as a wheezy hit-man.
Credit, too, must go to the directors for not allowing the film
to outstay its welcome, or drift towards unwanted sentimentality,
while also keeping things frothy and uncertain right up until
the final moment.
Intolerable Cruelty runs rings around most other romantic comedies
this year and is the type of film you are likely to want to see
more than once. So divorce yourself from predictability for a
while, and go and have some fun.