Published Aug 01, 2003You would think the world would've had enough of silly films about culture clashes, but I look around and I see it isn't so. Le Divorce tackles the familiar terrain of Americans in Paris, the very rich versus the merely wealthy and the etiquette of love. Unfortunately, it offers nothing new or particularly interesting to these topics.
Isabel (Kate Hudson) travels to Paris to help her pregnant sister Roxy (Naomi Watts). She arrives to see her French brother-in-law abandon his wife and young daughter for another woman. For a while the sisters pretend that nothing has happened and visit with Charles-Henri's family in the country. His mother (Leslie Caron) lives on a sprawling estate and is obsessed with maintaining proper behaviour something she thinks the Americans incapable of. His Uncle Edgar (Thierry Lhermitte) is a rightwing political pundit with a string of young mistresses. Isabel is next in line.
Le Divorce is yet another example of brash humanists crashing the upper class party. The Merchant-Ivory machine can do wonders with this topic but this film doesn't come close to previous work (namely A Room With A View). There is no spark. Ivory can be a whimsical filmmaker but his attempts in Le Divorce fall flat. The film plays out in a straightforward fashion, then a CGI purse floating over Paris rooftops (and a voiceover) appear in the last few minutes. Rather than quirky, they come across as desperate. The story is too dark; the characters are either uninteresting or sinister. Is Matthew Modine's performance as a jealous, unhinged husband supposed to be funny?
The only wonderful thing about Le Divorce is Paris itself. The screen is filled with gorgeous shots along Parisian streets and from the top of the Eiffel Tower. Not really worth the price of admission but it certainly kept me entertained during the preview. (Fox Searchlight)