What’s Coen on?
Director: Joel Coen
It’s not quite intolerable, but still, this all seems a little cruel, says Michael Creek
WHEN THE trailer for Intolerable Cruelty first appeared in cinemas, it was met with one big simultaneous “whoa, that doesn’t make it look any good at all!” And then we all thought: “ah, maybe that’s what they want us to think!” Well, here’s the news: if the Coen brothers were preparing us to have our predictions proved absolutely right, then yes, that was what they wanted us to think.
They’ve upheld the unwritten Hollywood law that says because Catherine Zeta Jones has had her share of floaty skirts and poppy fields after the Darling Buds of May, she should no longer be permitted to play anything more than a catty, vampish bitch. George Clooney is hardly out of his depth either, as the money-hungry but likeable lawyer, realising there’s more to life than pre-nuptial agreements. And the two of them have a bit of a half-arsed smouldering chemistry going on, as Zeta seduces Clooney while he represents her husband in a divorce settlement case.
Agh, but it’s just not funny, boys. What exactly are we supposed to be laughing at here? Clooney’s Smithers-style associate who cries at weddings? People walking into each other backwards in a panto stylee? C’mon, where’s that dark, cool-as-fuck dialogue that the Coens used to be so good at? The brothers are as slick as ever, but as Intolerable Cruelty lurches towards its Nutrasweet conclusion, it really is depressingly predictable. And if a cameo from Billy Bob Thornton as a Deep South oil tycoon in a sparkly Stetson can’t save a film, what can?
Author: Michael Creek
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