Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Finally got around to seeing the Coen Brothers' 2003 film Intolerable Cruelty, and despite my initial misgivings based on poor word-of-mouth, I enjoyed it. Didn't love it, mind you, but found it an often hilarious, if not awe-inspiring like the best Coen efforts can be, time-passer.

The way I understand it, this was a screenplay which had kicked around Hollywood for a long while before the Bros. decided to have a go at it, which explains the conventional plot at its base. Essentially a comedy about a slick, mega-successful, teeth-obsessed divorce lawyer named Miles Massey (legendary author of the ironclad Massey pre-nup), played by George Clooney with a lot of Dapper Dan still in his hair, who falls for a serial divorcee played by Catherine Zeta-Jones, with complications -of course- ensuing, it's pretty mainstream by Coens standards. Where they make their influence felt is with the arch, snappy dialogue and a group of standard oddball characters, such as the Rondo Hatton-ish thug that Clooney hires to kill someone, or Geoffrey Rush's cuckolded actor. It's mostly funny and certainly fast paced, with just enough Coen strangeness to keep it out of When Harry Met Sally-ish relationship comedy dullness, but it doesn't take as many turns, plotwise, as you hope for or expect...and the ending seems rushed and pat. Can't not mention the nicely done animated opening credits, which uses vintage illustrations of Cupids and so on. Not too many people pay attention to this sort of thing, but such is my curse, I suppose.

Cruelty isn't classic Coens, by any stretch, but I found it entertaining just the same.

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