Thoughts on "De-Lovely"

Decided not to post in this thread, in which people are talking about their plans to see it, lest anyone want to post spoilers here. I’m not entirely sure what spoilers would consist of – I think everyone is aware that there were physical problems in the latter part of his life? – but I like being able to see a movie without a whole lot of preconceptions or expectations. I’m notorious for not reading reviews until after I’ve seen the film – or deciding that I’m not going to. For me, coming home and checking out Ebert is part of the experience.

Anyway, this thread is for people who have actually seen the movie – as I did tonight.

I liked it very much – didn’t love it, but liked it very much. I’m not sure I’m going to need to buy it when it comes out on DVD, though I can’t rule it out. I hadn’t heard about the framing premise they used, so that came as a pleasant surprise – I thought the whole theatrical conceit worked pretty well. Kevin Kline was excellent, as he always is – Ashley Judd was good, but way too young for the role. I was meditating the whole time on Eve’s proposed casting of Nathan Lane and Christine Baranski – at some level it would have worked, but I think the unironic way that the story was presented was actually quite lovely.

I did start crying during “So in Love” – damn, it was as though I’d never heard the lyrics before. (“So taunt me and hurt me,/Deceive me, desert me,/I’m yours 'til I die,/So in love,/So in love,/So in love with you, my love, am I.”) Yeah, I was a little surprised, too.

Elvis Costello could have calmed down a little. Natalie Cole was better than I expected. The woman who played Louis B. Mayer’s … wife? gf? … was good. Loved the whole Louis B. production number. Liked the way they handled the whole section around “Night and Day,” which is, of course, my favorite Cole Porter tune.

The art direction was excellent, as was the costuming. I love that whole Art Deco thing, and was definitely sitting there thinking “rich was what to be during the Great Depression.”

Umm, that’s it for off the top of my head.

Has anyone else seen it? Dex, any additional commentary that you wanted to add?

Well, as I said before, I thought it started a little slow, and there were some dialog moments that were a li’l dull. On the plus side, it’s fun to watch (I love costume movies, and the costumes and sets were delightful, you get a glimpse of stocking), and how can you sit and listen to Cole Porter music for two hours and not think it’s a kick?

One more thought – loved the reference to the Cary Grant flick.

By the way – does anyone know if the part about Irving Berlin getting him to Broadway was based on fact?

I really think it was pretty weak as a bio-pic. I didn’t come away from the movie feeling like I had gained any insight whatsoever into the person of Cole Porter, his passions or his struggles, no insight into the golden age of Broadway, no insight into the golden age of the movie musical.

BUT! it was two hours of Cole Porter songs! How could anyone regret paying admission price for that? There really were so few occasions where there’d be more than five lines of dialogue before another song would begin, which suited me just fine. I thoroughly enjoyed my afternoon in the movie theatre. And the arrangements and performances were wonderful.

twickster he was singing “Let’s Misbehave”. “Let’s Misbehave!!!” He behaved poorly and I loved it.

The only performance I really didn’t enjoy happened to be Equipoise’s favorite: Sheryl Crow’s “Begin the Beguine”. I thought that was a god-awful performance, I don’t think she was suited to the material at all (“But, bienville, maybe it’s just that you can’t appreciate Sheryl Crow” On the contrary, I actually really like Sheryl Crow a lot! I have all her albums and listen to them quite frequently. Her performance of “Begin the Beguine”, however, was god-awful. Conversely, I am in NO WAY a fan of Alanis Morisette- I’m not fond of her work at all, but her performance of “Let’s Fall in Love” was one of my favorite performances of the entire movie!)

Just saw it yesterday.

Like you, Twickster, I liked the film without loving it. I don’t understand most critics; they savaged this movie. I found it engaging, entertaining, moving. And who knew Jonathan Pryce could sing? (I’ve never seen Evita - did he sing in that?)

Unlike you, bienville, I detested Morisette’s number (or at least the singing thereof), and rather liked Sheryl Crow’s. But the best was Vivian something-or-other doing Love for Sale, I thought.

What a huge, sledge-hammer talent the man had! And otherwise, a walking demonstration of the fact that self-awareness doesn’t make you a better person. I found the Ashley Judd character deeply moving; certainly I would not be capable of her degree of devotion. If the movie was anything like accurate, theirs was a remarkably complex relationship.

I’ve never seen the Cary Grant film, but I was struck by the ambivalence in his face in the scene they showed. When he and his “wife” embraced at the end of the movie, his was not a face of joy. It made me wonder just how white the wash had been.

But the movie couldn’t possibly be “anything like accurate.” You can’t substitute a gay man marrying a centerfold fifteen years younger than him and growing old together for the reality that he married an attractive but not gorgeous woman fifteen years older than him who couldn’t take the inattention as she aged and have it make any emotional sense at all.

It was an arthouse movie from the getgo - they didn’t need to have a young beautiful female star. They did need to have a script and actors that resonated together to illuminate this particular life.

Even so I did like the picture almost all the way through, and I liked the framing sequences that many of the critics hated. And Kevin Kline did an excellent job at creating the kind of attitude that one imagines that Porter wore throughout his life.

But I can understand why some - certainly not all - the critics disliked it. It should have been much better. Unlike some movies that I leave thinking “why didn’t that work?” the reasons De-Lovely didn’t work were all up there on the screen. You’d have to be a poor critic not to pounce on them.

I’ll start this off with saying that I moderately like Cole Porter’s music and tend to dislike musicals. My SO loves CP and musicals. Our impressions of the movie tended to fall in suit with those preconceptions.
The acting when CP was a ghost (or whatever that was supposed to represent) was very (for lack of a better term) musical. It was stiff, wooden, and reminded me of why I don’t like musicals. The dialogue in those parts was complete crap and I tended to cringe. The acting for the rest of the movie was just fine, nothing that really stood out for me.
The music. I’ll second the fact that although I like Sheryl Crow, her version of “Begin the Beguine” should never have begun. There was something about it that I couldn’t put my finger on that was just disconnected. Alanis was fine, but I really liked Robbie Williams’ performance. The musical number at the movie studio (I’m blanking on the name of the title) was definitely one of those over the top, let’s get all stooopid silly, wacky numbers. I hated it. My SO was clap-happy about it because it’s just one of those elements of a musical he really enjoys. My opinion of the movie overall is definitely prejudiced since musical theater gets under my skin. Oh, and someone slap Elvis Costello.