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Le Divorce (12A)



Review by: S Salarkia | Rating: Two

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: NONE LISTED

ON PAPER, the pairing of rapidly emerging screen divas, Kate Hudson and Naomi Watts, seems like the perfect recipe for just another typical romantic comedy.

But scratch a little deeper and there is much more to Le Divorce than your standard rom-com fare.

For starters, the film has been directed by James Ivory, from a screenplay by himself and Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, and is a much more stylish piece of work than you might, initially, expect.

Being set mostly in Paris, too, the film retains a European, almost art-house feel, while the heavyweight subject matter, in places, gives rise to some very dramatic situations.

Hudson stars as Isabel Walker, who arrives in Paris on the day that her pregnant sister, Roxie (Watts), is dumped by her husband - because that's what Frenchmen do.

Sticking around to pick up the pieces, Isabel quickly finds herself embarking on an affair with an older French politician and with a young writer's assistant, while also becoming embroiled in the mystery surrounding a family heirloom, which may just be priceless.

The ensuing drama is deftly handled by both cast and director, who infuse proceedings with all the sophistication we have come to expect from a Merchant-Ivory production.

And while the direction of proceedings initially took me by surprise, I quickly found myself engrossed in the lives of the two sisters, both of whom give great performances.

Watts, in particular, is superb as the emotionally unstable Roxie, who watches powerlessly as her marriage disintegrates around her (through no fault of her own), while Hudson is as endearing as ever, injecting proceedings with a great deal of charm.

Her seduction of Thierry Lhermitte's older politician is humorously played, while her scenes with her sister contain just the right amount of emotion to make both characters genuinely worth caring about.

The talented support cast also do much to enliven proceedings, with Stephen Fry, especially, proving to be a blast, and stealing just about every scene he is in - I only wished there was more of him.

The likes of Matthew Modine, Glenn Close and Stockard Channing round out a strong ensemble as well.

And given that the majority of romantic comedy/dramas take a well-trodden path to their inevitable conclusion, Le Divorce even has enough in its armoury to leave you with a pleasant surprise - with the denouement setting just the right tone for what has come before.

 

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