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Intolerable Cruelty

Intolerable Cruelty



George Clooney, Catherine Zeta Jones, Edward Hermann, Billy Bob Thornton, Julia Duffy, Jonathan Hadary, Irwin Keyes, Cedric the Entertainer, Emma Harrison

Miles Massey (George Clooney) is the walking definition of a brilliant divorce lawyer: Success is set on auto-pilot with incomparable victories in court, an iron-clad pre-nuptial agreement of his creation is named after him, associates and adversaries alike respect him and he makes buckets of money. What more could a boy want? Yet something is amiss in Miles’ life - going for the kill in divorce court doesn’t satisfy like it used to - and he suffers bouts of perplexing ennui.

A meeting between his new client, Rex Rexroth (Edward Hermann), and Rexroth’s wife, the fetching Marylin (Catherine Zeta Jones), throws Miles for a loop as she glides in with her lawyer. Suddenly Miles knows exactly what’s been missing from his life and he is smitten with the soon-to-be-ex Mrs. Rexroth.

Marilyn filed for divorce after using the services of a private investigator named Gus Petch (Cedric the Entertainer), who videoed the randy Rex mid-philander. Despite crushing evidence against his client, Miles adroitly excavates an embarrassing titbit from Marylin’s past during divorce proceedings by trotting out Heinz, the Baron Krauss von Espy (Jonathan Hadary), who worked as a concierge at a hotel where Marylin stayed. It’s revealed that the Baron was instructed by Marylin to retrieve a dumb, rich man with wandering eye that she could marry. And with that damning testimony, her dream of acquiring Rexroth’s riches is cast asunder.

When Marylin appears at Miles’ office some time later, he can’t believe his luck…until he spots Howard D. Doyle (Billy Bob Thornton), a wealthy oil man, firmly attached at her side. Not one to be dissuaded from her goal of being rich, Marylin hotly pursued her next prey - but curiously, she brought Howard up to sign the famous Massey pre-nup before they marry. Miles cautions her about the document, but unswayed, she insists on going forward. At the wedding, Howard rips up (and eats) the pre-nuptial agreement as a token of trust in and love for his bride…only to be divorced, cleaned-out and hung out to dry shortly thereafter.

Time passes and who should Miles see in Las Vegas while attending a divorce lawyers’ convention but Marylin, looking more ravishing than ever. This time she’s alone and cries on his shoulder about how lonely (and unimaginably rich), she is. There was an undeniable spark between them at first meeting that now burst into a roaring passion as they declare love for one another and marry at a local chapel. But, deception thy name is Marylin, and the next morning she files for divorce with her eye squarely on his money. Angry and humiliated at being played for a sucker, Miles tries to exact his revenge and there’s no shortage of counterattack shenanigans in the process.

The Coen Brothers have used their enormous talent in co-writing and directing a movie in the tradition of old-time screwball comedies. Clooney plays Miles with a suave, quirky aplomb and Zeta Jones’ sexy, scheming Marylin is convincing although it would have been interesting to see more internal conflict/ambivalence to comical effect re: giving up her quest for riches in favour of love. A support cast can be worth their weight in gold for characters that lend themselves to stand-out performances and this movie has some beauties: Paul Adelstein as Wrigley, Miles’ earnest associate (I like his t-shirt with “Objection!” printed on the front); Geoffrey Rush as Donovan Donaly, a wanky pony-tailed producer; Billy Bob Thornton as the gawky, buck-toothed motor mouth Howard D. Doyle; Julia Duffy as Sarah Sorkin, Marylin’s frivolous divorcee pal; Irwin Keyes as Wheezy Joe, the asthmatic hit man and Cedric the Entertainer is classic as Gus Petch, the effervescent p.i. with a video camera. They all look like they had a blast making this movie and while fans of the Coen Brothers won’t view “Intolerable Cruelty” as their best work it’s still worth a look-in.

DVD Review
I wasn’t as mad about “Intolerable Cruelty” as heaps have been. Sure, it was funny, it was quite original and both Zeta-Jones and Clooney worked well together – but still, it was nothing special.

The DVD includes a couple of featurettes, one on the wardrobe and one on the film itself, and a bunch of deleted scenes the ‘berries’ one is maddening to the extreme, albeit mildly amusing].

It is a little disappointing to see that The Coen Brothers didn’t do a commentary. Perhaps they’re saving that up for a special edition?

As it is, “Intolerable Cruelty” is a worthwhile disc – but one we would suggest renting before buying.

Clint Morris


Rating :


Reviewer : Sylvia Allewelt



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