A/V Room









Intolerable Cruelty - US reaction

Compiled by: Jack Foley

AS EVER, the Coens have done it again, with their dark trip into romantic comedy territory being hailed as another virtual masterpiece by critics in America.

The film finds George Clooney as a successful divorce lawyer, who finds himself falling for the vampish charms of Catherine Zeta-Jones’ money-fixated serial-bride, and the battle of wits that ensues between the two.

Village Voice leads the tributes, by stating that ‘to see Clooney tenderize, season, grill, and serve this ham hock of a role is to see an old-fashioned virtuoso in perpetual motion’, while Variety described it as ‘a thoroughly entertaining comedy about love, lawyers and fat divorce settlements’.

The Los Angeles Daily News, meanwhile, stated that the film is 'further proof that the Coens can take any genre - in this case, a star-driven screwball comedy - and make it work without sacrificing their unique sensibility in the process'.

And ReelViews declared that 'rarely has strife between the sexes been so ruthless, so civilized, and so funny'.

The Washington Post opined that it is 'smart, silly, splenetic and a bit smug, it's a movie that might put a viewer's teeth on edge were it not for its winning lead performances'.

While the Globe and Mail declared that 'if Intolerable Cruelty establishes one thing, it's that George Clooney is the closest thing that contemporary Hollywood has to an old-fashioned matinee idol'.

Entertainment Weekly’s reviewer, however, sounded one of the few negative notices, by stating that ‘I cannot detect a heartbeat of feeling, no matter how close I press a stethoscope against the star machinery of George Clooney and Catherine Zeta-Jones’.

As did the Hollywood Reporter, which felt that it is ‘a broad farce that is long on manic, cartoonish behaviour and short on intelligence and wit’.

The Chicago Sun-Times, meanwhile, felt that 'Joel and Ethan are bounteously gifted filmmakers, but sometimes you just want them to lay off the irony and climb down here with the groundlings'.

But the reviews were mainly positive, with the Detroit Free Press hilariously declaring that 'Clooney and Zeta-Jones make for a glamorous couple, and there is enough chemistry between them that you might find yourself wondering if Michael Douglas has a Miles Massey prenup'.

The New York Post, meanwhile, declared that it 'harks back to the screwball comedies of Howard Hawks and Preston Sturges - and owes much of its pizzazz to the spark-plug pairing of George Clooney and Catherine Zeta-Jones'.

The Boston Globe stated that 'it's determined to keep Clooney's considerable comedic skills front and center. He's never been looser, sexier, or more antic'.

While USA Today felt that it is 'not brilliantly funny nor incisively clever, Intolerable Cruelty is still moderately satirical and laugh-out-loud enjoyable'.

The final word, however, goes to Rolling Stone, which concluded that 'Clooney is definitely the man of these two hours. His portrait of a shark in love is a model of classy comic acting'.

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