Le Divorce review by Mike Long

As a lifelong movie fan, and someone who receives a lot of movie news, I'm constantly being bombarded by movie marketing. But, I learned long ago to never trust the hype and I try to go into an open movie with an open mind. Still, I'm occasionally fooled and I buy into the image that a movie is attempting to sell. A recent example is Le Divorce, which is being pushed as a romantic comedy, but is actually the exact opposite.

Roxeanne "Roxy" de Persand (Naomi Watts) is an American poet who lives in Paris. As the film opens, her husband, Charles Henri (Melvil Poupaud) announces that he is leaving her. Thankfully, Roxy's sister, Isabel Walker (Kate Hudson) arrives in Paris and is able to comfort Roxy. Roxy, who is pregnant, is very distraught and can't understand why her husband has deserted her and their young daughter. Meanwhile, Isabel begins to take in the sights and experiences of Paris and becomes involved with an older man, who just happens to be the uncle of Roxy's estranged husband. As Roxy attempts to come to grips with her impending divorce (which she doesn't want), Isabel settles into her role as a mistress, but both sisters will learn that live in France is quite different from what we experience in the United States.

Le Divorce is an incredibly unfocused film that never decides exactly what it wants to be. One things for sure, it isn't a comedy. Sure, there are some clever moments when the film is commenting on everyday life, but the premise may lead one to think that Le Divorce is a farce where Isabel must hide here affair with schtick a la Three's Company, but that isn't the case. In fact, Le Divorce is a deadly serious and quite often depressing film from those masters of the period-piece, Merchant-Ivory. Roxy's situation is very sad, and the bubbly Isabel soon becomes a tragic character. No one in this film is very happy. The story jumps from storyline-to-storyline seemingly at random, and the editing is quite odd at times. Matthew Modine has a small role in the film and his characters simply appears at random.

Oddly, Le Divorce does succeed as a sort of travelogue. We learn a great deal about France and the habits of the French. The movie focuses on how women are treated in France and the way the French approach romantic relationships. And, of course, the Parisian scenery is gorgeous. The information imparted here is interesting and motivates the story in a way, but it doesn't help to improve the film. The film's main plot is still something that has been done frequently (and often better) in many Lifetime movies. The cast is full of familiar faces and all of them are good, especially Watts, and Glenn Close as a wise American ex-patriate poet. I typically find Kate Hudson quite annoying, but her subdued performance in Le Divorce is pretty good. But, this fine acting can’t overcome the long-winded and pedestrian story. Trust me, any movie in which a painting becomes one of the main characters is pretty boring. Le Divorce doesn’t deserve a trip down the aisle to begin with.

Le Divorce files for DVD custody courtesy of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. The DVD contains both the widescreen and full-frame versions of the film. For the purposes of this review, only the widescreen version was viewed. The film has been letterboxed at 2.40:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. This is a fine looking transfer, as the image shows very little grain and no overt defects from the source material. The colors are outstanding, as the film’s palette plays a role in the story. There is some mild artifacting and some noticeable distortion when horizontal lines are present, otherwise the transfer looks good. The DVD’s Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track is also impressive, as it offers clear dialogue with no hissing. For a dialogue driven film, the stereo effects are quite noticeable and well-defined. The soundfield is good and the occasional moment of surround sound is well done. The subtitles in the film (when characters are speaking French) are white and easy to read. In a surprising move, especially when considering Fox’s track-record, there are no extra features at all on this DVD.

3 out of 10 Jackasses

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