Tuesday, November 09, 2004

"I wanted every kind of love that was available, but I could never find them in the same person, or the same sex." - Cole Porter

I watched De-Lovely on a whim on Friday since the local paper gave it five stars out of five. I don't particularly trust this paper's reviews, but decided to give this movie a shot. After all, if the movie has jazz songs, it's quite likely that I'll fall in love with it regardless of anything else.

De-Lovely, in case you don't know what the movie's about, is an biography of Cole Porter's (played by Kevin Kline) life. The movie takes its title from one of Porter's many songs, and seeks to present a more balanced view of his life than a previous movie, Night and Day did, showcasing Porter's promiscuous behavour - with men no less - and yet, always returning to his wife, Linda Lee Porter (Ashley Judd), his soulmate and muse.

As a musical, De-Lovely is fantastic. As a movie, not so much. It dragged on a little too long and it felt as if there were far too many songs, one springing up after another. Kevin Kline's and Ashley Judd's acting are both superb, although there are times as though Kline's Porter is entirely too satisfied with himself.

With regards to the music, the way the songs were worked into the movie is ingenious, while the performances, although always above average, varied from not quite jazz (Let's Do It (Let's Fall In Love), while a great song, doesn't sound quite like jazz thanks to Alanis Morissette's slightly whiny vocals) to fantastic (John Barrowman's Night and Day is breathtakingly passionate - and the scene which inspires it is just as good - and Vivian Green's Love For Sale is sweetly sad). Kevin Kline can sing rather well, which was quite a surprise; among my favourites were Well, Did You Evah! (showcasing Porter's remarkable wit) which sadly, does not appear on the official soundtrack.

I felt rather sorry for Linda during the movie, for it appeared to me as if she got stuck with a very bad deal. Not only was she stuck in a sexless marriage (regardless of whether she wanted sex), but she was saddled with a husband who couldn't see anything beyond having fun with the various men in his life. She clearly loved him, pushing him beyond his limits, ensuring he and his music got the fame they so deserved. When his legs were crushed in a riding accident, it was she who pushed him on to walk again, even when doctors were preparing to amputate his legs. And in his own way, Cole loved him. She inspired quite a few of his songs (or so, according to the movie) and when she passed away, it became clear he lost quite a sizeable part of himself.

As Roger Ebert wrote in his review for the Chicago Sun-Times, "they were a good fit not because they were a great love story, but because they were able to provide each other consolation in its absence."

Cole Wide Web - the Cole Porter Resource Site
The Cole Porter Reference Guide

Recommended Listening:
Ella Fitzgerald Sings The Cole Porter Songbook
Frank Sinatra Sings Cole Porter
Red Hot + Blue: A Tribute to Cole Porter

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