Saturday, July 2, 2011

Intolerable Cruelty (2003)

A Delightful Yet Often Unappreciated Coen Comedy

- A story of love, loss and prenumps, Intolerable Cruelty is about unbeatable divorce lawyer Miles Massey and his love sick journey from narcissistic love cynic to enthusiastic proponent of the idea that "love is good." Miles' road from cynic to saint is bumpy however, fraught with humorous obstacles; the least of which is the gold-digging Marylin Rexroth, the target of Mile's heart and his utter fascination....

Intolerable Cruelty (along with The Ladykillers (2004)) seems to get a lot of flak from critics and moviegoers alike as a bad film and one of the worst if not the worst of the Coen Brothers' films. I do not subscribe to this point of view however; as I believe that Intolerable Cruelty is a very funny feel good film.

Although the main story was not developed by the Coen Brothers, Intolerable Cruelty still bears a strongly recognizable Coen Brothers stamp. Not only did the Coens develop the complete script and direct/edit the film, the Coen Brothers signature look and feel can be found in every nook and cranny of Intolerable Cruelty. The script might not measure up to past levels of Coen excellence (a couple of overtly cheesy and melodramatic scenes do hurt the film a tad) but in no way is it substandard, as laugh-out-loud scenes line the film from beginning to end.

The film looks great too; the Coens team up with cinematographer Roger Deakins for the seventh time and yield wonderful results. Deakins yet again proves to be nothing short of exceptional here with his orchestration of the film's photography. Intolerable Cruelty is exquisitely lit and I cannot understand how some of the film's critics look past it as they bash the film.

The cast is great as well. While the performances seen in this film are not of the same high caliber as some other amazing performances in previous Coen Brothers films, they are still highly enjoyable. George Clooney is hilarious and just plain entertaining as the charmingly smug Miles Massey and Catherine Zeta-Jones is also great and is perhaps at her best as the gold-digging Marylin Rexroth. Billy Bob Thornton also lends his acting talent to a small but great role here in his second Coen Brothers film, Richard Jenkins is quietly hilarious in a small role, Cedric the Entertainer is surprisingly funny in his odd private detective character, and Geoffrey Rush is unforgettable in his near cameo part.

It is possible that I may be too big of a Coen Brothers fan to not like it but I think Intolerable Cruelty is an immensely entertaining film. In any event, do not allow the dark cloud of critical negativism stop you from seeing Intolerable Cruelty for yourself.  

CBC Rating: 8/10

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